Durham, North Carolina. Google Earth.

Durham, North Carolina. Google Earth.

It is mid-July, which in North Carolina means that the temperatures are hovering around 90 degrees with intense humidity. I have not yet turned on the air in my feminest, something I’ve not tried before in North Carolina.  This was pretty brutal during the first few weeks, but I am adjusting. Biking around and living without air conditioners (when you have fans) is not so bad once you get used to it.
 
Most of us out here in the South East go from air-conditioned houses, to air-conditioned cars, to air-conditioned offices and back again. (I am not writing to guilt trip people here, just an observation). I had heard from the crazy bike commuters in Boston that biking when it is absolutely freezing outside makes the weather more tolerable, and I am coming to believe it is the same for hot weather and humidity.


Oak Trees in Wilmington, North Carolina

Oak Trees in Wilmington, North Carolina

But I also noticed that my daily commute by bike even during the hot weather is causing me to connect with my surroundings in a way that would not have been possible. When I ride my bike I notice the trees. I notice the gift of their shade. Areas with lots of trees are actually several degrees cooler than other parts of the city. Natural air-conditioners that make it easier not harder for us to breath!
 
You would not notice this if you were in your car all the time. You would not feel this difference. You also may not notice that people driving around are very much in their own, disconnected bubbles. If we were more connected maybe we would realize how much power we have to make our communities better. Plant more trees and take care of each other. It got me to theorize that, in general, actions and lifestyle choices that cause us to connect with our surrounds are on the whole – good, whereas those that cause us to disconnect from our surroundings are on the whole – bad.


Workers striking in front of the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City

Workers striking in front of the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City

We spent the weekend in Atlantic City for a wedding. There were so many examples of disconnection. Atlantic City is hurting. We wandered around and saw sprawling, dilapidated hotels. Some vacant right in the middle of the boardwalk. I wondered, at the end of the day, is disconnection also ultimately bad for the economy? I talked to a man on the boardwalk who was born in Atlantic City. He said that Atlantic City is dying. When I asked him what they should do differently he said – give back to the community.


The next day I passed a protest in front of Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino. 1,000 workers are striking after their pensions and health care were cut. Disconnected from workers, disconnected from community. We walked past the largest hotel I’ve ever seen: Revel. It was closed. Behind the building were the remnants of torn down housing units, one or two still left standing. You can tell by the vegetation and wild flowers that the development project was abandoned a while ago.


Revel - too big to capture in one photo, has been closed since Sept 2014

Revel – too big to capture in one photo, has been closed since Sept 2014

In a way, I was pleased to see that the developers who had torn down these peoples’ homes had not succeeded financially. Literally tearing down the community to make money that they then hoard away from the community. This model, at least in Atlantic City is dying.


One of many free standing housing units to have survived failed development projects

One of many free standing housing units to have survived failed development projects

I have hope that in the rebirth, in Atlantic City and elsewhere, the economy will be built on connection and not disconnection. I hope to be a part of this new wave of economic activity that recognizes how foolish it is to build a business any other way. You are part of the community: the people and the environment. The impact of your business is felt in the community. You care if the community thrives or is left wanting.

Connection is a star in the night sky guiding us in a new direction. I believe this is possible.
 
Thanks for all your support!
 
Reid

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