This week, we are talking about what it takes to build community.
My guest is Peter Elam, a software developer. But you will not hear anything about computers or coding on this show. That is because Peter is also passionate about education reform and creating healthy communities that support people to build a better future, deeper connections and clarity in communication.
“When I was 22 years old, 23, I wrote this 100-page manifesto about education. About my experiences with it and where I saw it going or where it should go.”
Through listening to our conversation you will discover what Peter believes the conditions are that enable people to thrive, make friends that are lasting, and the importance of what he calls ‘wet social cement’.
Have you considered how many friends you have or how strong the bond is?
As a man at the wrong end of 50+, what Peter brought to this conversation resonated well with me. The internet and social media were meant to connect us and lead to stronger communities. I would say, yes it has allowed me to meet and interact with a lot of people, and you are probably listening to me because of that technology, but it is not enriching my friendships. As I get older I can see that unless I start to do something different, my social circle will inevitably get smaller. Now that’s food for thought.
Peter Elam’s Background
Peter was born into a largish family, being one of five children. He grew up just outside Washington DC in an environment that was very political in a tribal sort of way. Peter pushed back against this and recalls that he wanted to be independent long before he was old enough to be so.
“I was ready to move out of the house at 14… I obviously couldn’t because I had to go to school and other things, but the story of my life (was) gaining independence. So for me going to school, high school and all that kind of stuff, even college was like this is something to get through so that I can do what I want on my own.”
College for Peter was James Madison University where he studied Technology. After that he moved to San Diego with friends and continued by studying Technology in Education at The University of Texas in Austin. This led into teaching at the university and starting a Technology Lab that employed talented people to create software and systems to support research projects.
“Let’s say a professor would get a grant to build a project that involved technology, we would make it happen“
Discovering the Power of Community
Through this project Peter was able to hire lots of very talented people; students and very bright high performers. Over the years of being there, he discovered the importance of community and how these people struggled to establish strong connections elsewhere. Particularly after they left to find jobs in other parts of the country.
“They had a hard time leaving because of the community aspect to it. They had not experienced this kind of thing
before… When they went on to a normal job, a real job, it just wasn’t like that for them. That really had an impact on me.”
It led him to personally researching and exploring the ideas behind creating a good community and what it takes to build strong relationships.
Eventually, the University Job ran its course for Peter and six years ago he moved on to create a successful Software Development business with his brother that allowed him the freedom to become a digital nomad. Since then he has been living in locations around the world and more recently has been staying a lot in Mexico City.
However, throughout this time he has continued to explore his ideas around community and relationship and the ingredients that allow people to thrive. He has determined that community, growth, and purpose are the three most important factors and when someone is struggling, at least one of those three is typically lacking.
Building Supportive Networks
Bringing his discoveries together, Peter has recently founded an organization called No Tribe that aims to help adults in urban environments find community, growth, and purpose. The project is in its early stages, but it has become his life mission.
The aim is to use old houses as the venues for community learning hubs. Name Crossroads, they will offer a unique combination of adult education throughout the day that transforms into a Social Club in the evenings. The venues will also host events and programs that support individuals and organizations that aim to have a positive social impact.
The first Crossroads is set to open in Mexico City early in 2022.
Further Information and Discount Opportunity
Thank you for joining me for this conversation with Peter Elam. If you are interested in community building or the tools that are required for connection. Do reach out to him at NoTribe.org, I am sure you will have a fascinating conversation.
If you were intrigued by Peter’s software app for document communication and sharing, it is a clever management system called Diamondtree. There is a free 14-day trial and Peter is generously offering Life Passion & Business listeners a 50% discount on the purchase price. To obtain this, use the code PASSION (all caps) at the checkout on the DiamondTree.org website.
Direct links to all Peter’s websites and social media channels are available below.
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