Friday, March 1, 2013

The Ned Time Zone

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
Nederland has a new clock tower on the bike/coffee shop. [Tin Shed Sports & Salto Coffee Works] It sparked a discussion on social media about the impact of this clock tower on our town. We thought maybe we should set the clock somewhere between five to fifteen minutes later than Mountain Standard Time, because that's Ned Time – Or maybe ten minutes earlier to offset the difference, I never know. What is certain, is that everyone in our community instinctively knows what Ned Time is.

Ned Time is a return to a simpler, less stressful time. Hmm, That sounded too Amish, or backwards. I find it funny that I'm currently dictating this article into a mobile phone, while traveling to a meeting in Denver. The App converts it into text, which I plop into the blog. Simpler than a typewriter, not so Amish.

When I moved from the corporate world to Nederland, I made a promise that I wouldn't put myself through the stresses of trying to cut corners and cheat the system. I was used to having an hour of road rage to drive to work every day and I would listen to books on tape in order to save time. It's not all about consuming more, more, more. Yet we should be more thoughtful, more conscious, more intentional. [Multi-tasking versus single-tasking] Of course the books I listened to, quoted Thoreau.

"It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"

"One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something."

― Henry David Thoreau

Technology has improved productivity and made it possible to live in the mountains and communicate with the rest of the world seamlessly. Furthermore, after living at 8,230 feet above sea level for a little while, I begin to realize that nature and basic physics dictate a lot more than I had anticipated. If you are late for an appointment, trying to make up time by speeding down a steep canyon road, the law of inertia is more critical than the long arm of the law. At some point you have to give in to Ned Time, accept it, pause for a few elk in the road, and enjoy the ride. We all instinctively know what time it is. You can't find it on a clock.

Ned Time is more of a state of mind, than an actual time. It's Nederland's own time zone that oscillates around Mountain Standard Time.

Our community developed a set of Working Agreements that we agree to abide by in public meetings. It was developed by the community with the help of Gary Sanfacion's Peak to Peak Healthy Communities Summit. The Board of Trustees adopted it in 1997, and a poster was made that we put out for our town meetings. It includes a list of the agreements.

As a community, we pretty much follow all the other agreements except the first one, which is: "We will start and end on time". I'm sure the creators thought this would be the perfect world. Someone saw this as a problem. That we wouldn't be able to keep up with the rest of America if we weren't stricter with time. A couple of trustees agreed with me that it would probably be a bit more appropriate if, "We start and end on Ned Time."

We have working agreements with nature too. Except nature always wins.

The time management guru Steven Covey, dedicated an entire book (First Things First) to the idea of managing with a compass rather than a clock. There are other versions of these ideas about principle centered leadership, purposeful life, etc. If you resonate with Thoreau and Covey then you may begin understand Ned Time a little.

It follows that this past year, the Board of Trustees adopted our Rules of Procedure, and Code of Conduct. Click here for details. We are guiding the town's decision making with a set of values and principles. More of a compass, than a clock.

Low Pressure Effect:

There is an effect that is most noticeable when we get a good dump of snow. The whole town gets quieter by one notch. People begin shoveling driveways and help each other out. Stores may not open on the time that is posted on the door. I find it's one of the key elements moving from a big city to a small town.

Of course our Public Works Department starts working in the middle of the night to keep our streets plowed. But figuratively speaking, on a big snow day in Winter Park, Breckenridge or Steamboat, they all go out and work because it is their main industry. When it snows in Ned, we put a sign on the door, "Gone Tele-Skiing in the back country". Steamboat is designed to cater to tourists, whereas Nederland is on Ned Time. The infrastructure in Winter Park is skewed toward the demands of tourism.

In practice, it's rare to see a "gone fishin" sign on the door, but as long as the possibility exists to see such a sign, makes Ned Time real. Sure, it is more convenient to have a Super Target open 24/7, but I'll take the local grocer (B&F Market) or the local Mountain People's Coop, who participate in the community. The approach here is that if you pass someone on the road who needs help, you help them, even if it makes you a little late for a meeting.

I just about completed dictating this article when I arrived at my meeting in Denver. It was the Colorado Municipal League's Legislative Workshop. Mayors, city council members, and city managers from 271 municipalities across Colorado. We were supposed to hear a presentation from the Governor, but he was late. I'm sure he had a perfectly good excuse – running the state I suppose. My hope is that he was on Ned Time, and really made a difference in someone's life.

[Here is a Video Valediction] In anticipation of Frozen Dead Guy Days, Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show with Sir Christopher Lee. [What is a Video Valediction?]
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