First person: Making our community better, one unlocked door at a time

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Noah Kutz, lead member of our community outreach effort, is a global studies major at ASU. He lived for five years in the Washington, D.C., area and has an informed perspective of national and world issues. The following column offers insight into his view of some of the ways we can make our communities better.

 

I stood outside the driver-side window of my car and pressed my face against the glass to confirm my idiocy. There sat the keys on the passenger seat, the little button on the door hopelessly switched, I was sure, to the “lock” position. Not a happy discovery.

I walked into my destination, Sweetest Season, a new café in the shopping center at Guadalupe and McClintock, and told a fellow 20-something who greeted me that I’d be needing some coffee and a place to sit for a while. Or maybe longer.

Despite my initial thought to call AAA, I found myself walking with one of the employees of this family-run restaurant a few minutes later—me no less despairing, him determined to pry my car door open to make room for the wire hanger he brought with him to be wiggled through the crack to disengage the “unlock” button.

With the help of two table servers, two SRP workers who passed by in their truck and asked to help, and a stranger who saw the commotion and thought he’d join—seemingly all the kings horses and men willing to help—we opened the car in less than 15 minutes.

Triple A? With people like this around, who needs them? I had a wire hanger and a bunch of good-hearted Samaritans determined to help me out of a jam.

No matter what you say about people these days, you’ll find those who are simply the best anywhere you are. This is, in a way, what we preach here at your neighborhood newspaper. Although metro Phoenix can feel like an awfully big place sometimes, we hope you can find ways every day to make it feel just a little bit smaller.

By this I mean talking to people, face-to-face, and cultivating meaningful relationships with the community around you. This goes hand-in-hand with supporting local businesses, plus keeping your mindset locally influenced.

The other day I saw an ad in The New York Times that read: “The truth is worth it. Subscribe now.”

I actually considered hitting the online subscribe button, but continued to scroll through the pages that followed on the screen. This is no doubt because I’m part of this new generation that seeks to find the cheapest and most convenient way to consume things, which translates to: There’s no way I’m going to pay for news that I probably can find elsewhere for free.

The same goes for shopping. Where are you buying your Christmas gifts this season? I think I can make a safe assumption that at least half of us are buying at least half our presents on Amazon.

There’s no shame in this; after all, it’s quicker and likely more convenient. Despite this continuously growing phenomenon of convenient methods to consume cheaper products, however, there’s something that big, distant corporations don’t have
on small businesses: the experience.

My favorite part of going into small coffee shops and eateries is when they serve
me a cup of exceptional coffee in a real mug. It may not seem like a big deal, but savoring my drink through a ceramic mug and sipping some delicious dark roast creates an environment I would like to experience again.

Some people know this same feeling when they hold a newspaper and flip its pages between their fingers. Local places make you feel like you’re home with your family as they bring you an experience that feels nothing short of comfortable, despite being in a place that may be completely unfamiliar.

We need more of this in our society. We need more people who desire to consume locally produced and locally owned products, because these things enable larger communities to maintain small-town mindsets.

If your mind is constantly in the clouds, away from the here-and-now, then all you will find is what’s in the clouds. But if you take a moment to come back down to earth and interact with your neighbors, your local vendors, your friends, your family, then you’ll be doing your part to help cultivate a community of harmony and friendship.

Before you seek the cheapest and easiest method of consuming your desired product, find a real coffee mug or real a local newspaper and pursue it with the people around you.

Here in this community, we seek to cultivate fellowship and sociability with our neighbors. And, by the way, if you see someone trying to get to their keys inside their locked car, help them out. It’s a sure way of making someone’s day.

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