A Neighborday Manifesto: Because We're Better Together A Neighborday Manifesto: Because We're Better Together
The GOOD Life

A Neighborday Manifesto: Because We're Better Together

by Kyla Fullenwider

March 28, 2013

The American mythology of rugged individualism, self-reliance, and the pioneer spirit has traveled far and, like any good myth, picked up embellishments along the way. Emerson, Thoreau, and then later (in her own way) Ayn Rand all celebrated the great American virtue of going it alone. The Pilgrim, the Pioneer, the Cowboy, and the Capitalist—all heroes of this folklore—share the same narrative: go west and go alone. Yet somehow that story never seems to hold up. The Pilgrims, it turns out, shared food, pioneers—camps. And yes, even cowboys get the blues. “Our national myths,” writes Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone, “often exaggerate the role of individual heroes and understate the importance of collective effort.” That is, they belie the fact that it was indeed the good will, the trust, and the reciprocity—the social capital—of communities and of neighbors that made America possible. 

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

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A Neighborday Manifesto: Because We're Better Together