The city strong and welcoming all around us

I love turning the calendar to a new month, even if just digitally. There is a surprising sense of potential and possibility, of fresh starts and the slow change of seasons. I’ve always loved September and autumn here in the States—back to school, cooler temperatures, and the anticipation of holidays, family, and eventually, a new year.

We’ve been thinking a lot about what autumn will hold for Uncommon. There are ten of us working regularly on this now, as schedules allow, and many more of you lending a hand now and then. We’ve seen the first glimpse of how we will honor our favorite things in pixels. I hope to share that soon.

Talk has turned to data models, blogging tools, and Heroku add ons, so things are getting a little more concrete. We also had our first Uncommon gathering tonight. Thanks to Matt for the idea and to everyone who stopped by.

For the curious who just joined us, this weekly email is our way of enjoying a conversation about Uncommon, ideas for its future and the tale of its creation. Welcome!


Last week’s dispatch asked, What defines a great city? The responses were fascinating. As I read them, I started replacing city with community and gained a whole new perspective.

Mona wrote:

I think multiculturalism defines a great city. The peaceful (and sometimes not so peaceful) forced co-existence of plural cultural communities means a society constantly exposed to new languages, foods and customs. This keeps people fresh and open, one hopes.

Layne wrote:

A great city is in constant conversation with itself and its citizens about where it’s been, where it is today, and what’s next. One of my favorite great cities is Paris, as it meets all of these criteria.

Nick wrote:

I love cities because of the people who live in them. So I’d say a city is defined by its ability to treat good people right, and attract more good people in the process – for whatever definition of "good" works for you.

Amanda wrote:

People on the streets. Lots of people, most of the time — not just at rush hour. People are a sign of life. They’re a sign that the environment welcomes human activity, that a city is safe and interesting enough for its inhabitants to be out and about. And they bring character to a place.

Brad wrote:

There’s a delightful interplay of humility, energy and beauty in Vancouver. I have never before or since felt the way I did after attending a fireworks show on the beach for Canada Day, while walking back to my hotel amidst tens of thousands of city residents who had taken over the streets. Cars were nowhere to be found and we effortlessly filled the streets, building to building with smiling faces and warm embraces, the city strong and welcoming all around us. Truly moving.

Uncommon reads

Derek Powazek asks, What If Social Networks Just Aren’t Profitable?

What if we designed a social network to be small, self-supporting, and independent from the outset? How would it look, work, and feel?

Scott Belsky asks, What Happened to Downtime?

Our insatiable need to tune into information – at the expense of savoring our downtime – is a form of “work” (something I call “insecurity work”) that we do to reassure ourselves.

An introduction

If you’d like to introduce yourself to the Uncommon community, send a short note along with an interesting tidbit (maybe one of your favorite things or an idea you’re toying with) and I’ll include them in future dispatches. This week, meet Patty:

I love to learn, I love to listen, I have a passion for efficient, effective productivity practices, I love living urban, and something that is very near and dear to my heart is my non-profit Layers of Love. You can find me on Twitter at @topsurf.

Your turn

What is your favorite month and why do you love it?