middle brow | citizen how \ 14 jul 17 /

the great unmooring. 

no doubt. life in america has changed in the past 20-30 years. we know: that's not interesting. but still, it relates to beer. so, if you will, bear with us for the rest of your commute.

in these modern times, we feel increasingly less tied to our communities. you see it in the higher frequency with which people "leave home" to live in a different city. in the urbanization of suburban millennials coupled with the reduction in the tendency to know your neighbors. in the shift from an IRL social life to an online one whereby you connect with your own "virtual" community with such high frequency that you hardly have time to spend talking to your friends and neighbors. nothing new. heard it before. yadda.

and how did this happen? well, obviously social media played a big role. facebook focuses our attention on status. and so what. maybe it's human nature to size up your neighbor. but at least ten years ago you were sizing up your actual neighbor. and not someone you knew 6 years ago who now like 350 miles away.

instagram offer visual beauty! but always elsewhere or from another time. and there's so much visual beauty in front of you. right now. look! oh. too late. it's gone. back to your phone. 

twitter encourages the constant news chase. granted, this is often news about the world. but it's usually snarky news about the world. it's like one big average joke. nobody should make time for that. and nobody needs that much news about other places. about the coasts and the elites and communities of which *we all* are most definitely not participants.

also, though, things like reduction in church attendance have played a role in this unmooring. we're not religious people (in fact, we're pretty strongly anti-religious), but even we can acknowledge that church belongs to a certain category of things that strengthen communities. religious services, school board meetings, park districts, little league, community theater, public libraries: all of these things used to work together to help establish and grow a community. increasingly, though, we spend less time at religious services. we also spend less time in public libraries. and less time seeking out art in our communities. and less time actually attending school board meetings. so it's no surprise that we feel less connection to a given community or place.

this can be both a good thing and a bad thing. for instance, since we're not so tied to our community's needs from and expectations for us, we have more courage and energy for individual growth. we can be ourselves. and self-expansion is an important driver of happiness. on the other hand, though, people are generally happier in stronger communities to which they belong and contribute. 

so it would be wise to try to find new ways to make community. goddess knows food and beverages have become a much bigger part of our day-to-day and weekends in recent years. so restaurants and bars and breweries and bakeries and farmers' markets can help in that role. if one owns such an establishment, one should do her best to open that space up to the community. to hire from the community. to host free community-related events (like school board meetings or town halls). to offer free breakfast to folks (especially children) in the community with fewer resources. and on and on. owners of such establishments should also do their best to engender as much interest as possible in the *old* ways of community organizing, too. those ways worked for hundreds if not thousands of years for good reason. let's not let a few dozen tubes under the ocean change that.

we donate 50% of our profits to local charities. and we'll continue to do so for the foreseeable future. but that doesn't feel sufficient. as we continue to build our brewery, we constantly ask ourselves how to do more than simply write a check. we have to use our bodies and minds and mouths to change our shareholder culture into a stakeholder culture. and we'll be damned if we don't.

so anyway, require (and ***ask***) more from your favorite breweries and bakeries and restaurants and markets. they should be focused on more than making a food or beverage widget. it's become their responsibility.