Gracious, generous, belonging

This week's dispatch features a note from our friend, Erin Anacker.

In a car, the intricate details on the clothing of passersby would have been smeared colors. The subtleties of the building facades just generic shapes. We would have missed the gentle interruption of a turtle’s back along the calm river’s edges. Would have merely focused on the destinations rather than spotting favorite houses and lush gardens on our way to catch the bus.

In April, I visited Austin, Texas, for the first time. My best friend and travel buddy decided against renting a car. I am so glad. Many people have touted Austin’s artsy wonders and finger-licking food trucks—which are noteworthy. What stood out to me the most, however, was how this sizable city, with close to one million residents, felt so intimate and close-knit, a detail a rental car’s autonomy surely would not afford.

Ever since college, when I lived in Seattle without a car for five years, I have appreciated the quiet and observant seat on a city bus. This is my favorite way to explore a new city. That pre-smartphone experience bestowed upon me an independence, a set of navigational tools. (And a theory: smart phones create codependence.) I would pore over a collected pile of metro maps and printed directions and calculate my itinerary with pen and paper. It was like having a fun puzzle to solve.

Navigating the unfamiliar nooks of a city by bus requires a more careful study of its layout. There are few straight lines and rarely a direct course. The circuitous routes and the slow yet methodical cadence of public transportation introduce a passive progression along city blocks, through neighborhoods, past busy corners. You get where you need to go but nothing is required of you. Once planned, you have few concerns. Read a book or listen to a podcast. Quietly soak up the nuances of the city and observe the people and places around you as they dart and dodge in and out of view.

Next time you visit a new city, or maybe even an old one, take a new approach to exploration. Absorb the quirky, subtle idiosyncrasies missed at high speeds and enjoy the ride.

Erin is a devoted founding Uncommon member and people enthusiast. Her passions revolve around building community and better business within the design industry, specifically amongst women. She is an avid outdoor adventure seeker and an intentional wine drinker who is shamelessly independent, and most of all, sassy.


Last week's dispatch asked, What are three of your favorite words? The replies were equally fascinating and entertaining. Some will also show up on Uncommon invitations soon. Enjoy!

Yinka wrote:

ice cream, purple, and design

Jon wrote:

gracious, generous, and belonging

Radhika wrote:

mellifluous, quantum, and (birthday) party

Grant wrote:

green, entelechy, and vibrant

Sasha wrote:

supple, lithe, and laconic

Paul wrote:

terroir, provenance, and discombobulated

Jenny wrote:

sleep, jumper, and why

Julie wrote:

tintinnabulation, bedizen, and intertwingled

Brian wrote:

penitential, belies, and cadence

Meghaun wrote:

satellite, bamboozle, and crushingly

Kristi wrote:

melody, melody, melody

Marcus wrote:

Indubitably (because I love how it sounds when I say it), amazing (because I use it so often), and learn (because I want to do it every day).

Tricia wrote:

All my favorites are words in Spanish, my non-native language that I have come to love. Esperanza. Mariposa. Paz. Hope, butterfly, peace. So beautiful and so interconnected.

Bern wrote:

My favorite word of all time is Aristotelianism. I also like ephemeral and Amazonian. But if there were a word for the squeaking sound that basketball shoes make on a wooden court, that would top the list for sure.

Katie wrote:

By far, my most favorite word is holiday (especially the European version that is used as a synonym for vacation). Tiramisu for obvious and delicious reasons (tiramisu is practically an onomatopoeia to me!). And pupcake, my daughter's adorable word for cupcake.

Ben wrote:

Stadia: The proper (read: pedantic) pluralization of stadium<br>Cerulean: About as much for the sound and shape (on the page and in the mouth) then the shade<br>Fantastic: An underrated adjective

Drew wrote:

Onomatopoeia: the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named, e.g., cuckoo, sizzle<br>Encompass: surround and have or hold within or, include comprehensively<br>Interstitial: of, forming, or occupying interstices

Uncommon reads

Hyperemployment, or the Exhausting Work of the Technology User by Ian Bogost:

After that daybreak email triage, so many other icons on your phone boast badges silently enumerating their demands. Facebook notifications. Twitter @-messages, direct messages. Tumblr followers, Instagram favorites, Vine comments. Elsewhere too: comments on your blog, on your YouTube channel. The Facebook page you manage for your neighborhood association or your animal rescue charity. New messages in the forums you frequent. Your Kickstarter campaign updates. Your Etsy shop. Your Ebay watch list. And then, of course, more email. Always more email.<br><br>Often, we cast these new obligations either as compulsions (the addictive, possibly dangerous draw of online life) or as necessities (the importance of digital contact and an “online brand” in the information economy). But what if we’re mistaken, and both tendencies are really just symptoms of hyperemployment?

The Death of Letter Writing by Mason Currey:

Unlike traditional mail, email is always active. You can’t fire off an email and then put it completely out of mind; there is at least some slight awareness of the message’s continuing life, the possibility of a reply, the need to keep refreshing the stream of digital correspondence. And that’s the best-case scenario — more often, it is the nagging collection of unanswered emails that weighs on one’s mind.

2012: My Very Own Disaster Movie by Kerry-Anne Gilowey. This is a powerful story of vulnerability, fragility, tribes, and hope. Kerry-Anne has been part of the Uncommon community from the start and really loves Pearl Jam.

Your turn

What is the first thing you like to do in a new city?