The Blue Light

Challenge #1: Be Present

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Credit: Charles Wilson (http://charleslwilson.smugmug.com) for more pictures.

Here’s my latest blog post for The Blue Light Blog & Podcast. You can also read my weekly column in the Garretson Gazette if you live in the area!


One of the best ways individual community members can add value to Garretson is deceptively simple – being fully present. Community has slowly shifted from being a shared life to shared space. In order to return to the original concept of community, we must refocus on having a shared life together. One of the greatest obstacles to this shared life is our obsession with technology – especially with our phones.

I am currently reading a remarkable book called “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” Many of us have a behavior addiction to technology – especially the use of smartphones. Based on a large study of smartphone users, the average person looks at their phone for three hours a day and checks their phone 40 times a day!

Eventually winter is going to be over (I know it doesn’t feel like it!) and my challenge to all of us is to learn how to be present. As summer arrives and you spend time at one of the parks in Garretson or simply go on a walk around your neighborhood, resist the urge to stare at your phone. When you are at a local event waiting for it to start, refuse to scroll through Facebook. Instead, seek to be fully present to the people around you.

What if we fought through the awkwardness of not pulling out our phones and instead engaged a real human being in conversation? The tragedy of our technology is that the more connected we become online, the more isolation we experience in the real world. To make Garretson an attractive community, let’s seek to be fully present to family, friends, and strangers – recognizing that real conversations are more impactful than online dialogue.

Growth or Health (The Blue Light)

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As some of you know, I have been asked by the City of Garretson to make The Blue Light Blog & Podcast the official blog & podcast for the community. I will cross-post the blogs here for those of you interested in reading them! See below for the most recent one:


At the mayoral forum two weeks ago, one of the questions posed to the candidates was, “How big do you want Garretson to grow?” This is a question that many people in our community ponder. We know that Garretson is at a critical point for a small town – we have new businesses and people coming to our community and we need to decide whether we will encourage or discourage growth. We have all seen small towns slowly lose businesses… young families move away… and the local school can no longer operate. If we simply allow ourselves to drift without any type of plan, we will always drift into complacency rather than action.

But there’s the thing – what if we have the wrong focus? What if instead of asking, “How can we cause Garretson to grow?” we should ask, “How can we cause Garretson to be a healthy community?” If we focus on sheer numerical growth and marketing for our small town, we MIGHT grow but I do not think the growth will be sustainable. On the other hand, if the members of our community truly seek to care for their neighbors, get involved with local government, and join community organizations to promote the wellbeing of all – we will see healthy numerical growth.

Over the next few weeks I am planning on doing a series of posts that will encourage all of us with ways we can help Garretson be a HEALTHY community. The definition of community has slowly changed to a shared area or space where people live. What if we returned to the original meaning of community which is that of a “shared life” or “public spirit?” What if Garretson was known for both radical hospitality and beautiful parks? What if the members of Garretson displayed authentic care for one another? What if we realized that we exist for more than just our own personal happiness and comfort?

These are all questions I am hoping to wrestle with over the next few weeks. If you have any thoughts on them I’d love to hear from you – please send an e-mail to tyler@renovationchurchsd.com!

By the way, there is a planning meeting for GROW Garretson this Saturday at 3pm at Screwballz Bar & Grill. I will be at the meeting and would love to connect with you. This will be an opportunity to learn how you can help Garretson become a truly healthy community!