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Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:23 AM

Measuring the Breadth of Friendship


im Rockwell Diversity of friends was ours in Smithville, Texas, in the 1980s. And this was just the newspaper staff!

A bank vice-president and a Hari Krisha person, a former twirler, a lesbian couple that raised Nubian goats, a mortician, a real estate agent, a neon bender, the home-ec teacher, a cancer-research scientist, an electrician, the town librarian, a cowboy, a Methodist minister, two impressionist painters, and a full-time can collector. This was a mere 90 degrees of our social circle in the mid-1980s, as residents of Smithville, Texas (pop. 3500).

Moving there from a city, Iíd assumed that small-town residents would be look-alikes and that my husband and I would have a hard time finding friends. But in the thirty years before moving there and the now-nearly-thirty more since we moved away, Iíve never known such a diversity of close acquaintances.

What made that happen?

A new study by a professor at Wellesley College and two scholars from University of Kansas offers clues. Itís not that I was more amiable during those years or that the people of Smithville, nice as they were, are so much friendlier than people in Louisville or Chicago, Chapel Hill or Austin. According to researchers Angela J. Bahns, Kate M. Pickett and Christian S. Crandall, itís a matter of ďsocial ecology.Ē The size of the town altered the scope of our friendships.

Julie Ardery Cheering the University of Louisville on to victory from Smithville, TX, during the 1986 NCAA tournament were (l-r) Tony Bales, Maurice Evans, and Bill Bishop, now the Daily Yonder's co-editor. Tony painted houses for a living and Maurice worked at the post office. Bill was co-publisher and editor of the Bastrop County Times then.

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Reply Measuring the Breadth of Friendship (Original post)
xchrom Feb 2012 OP
Hotler Feb 2012 #1
xchrom Feb 2012 #2

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:38 AM

1. Sense of community.

Get to know the neighbors in your building. Get to know your neighbors on your block. There are good folks out there beyond your coworkers. The whole world is not a can of shit.

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Response to Hotler (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:46 AM

2. ...

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