Every morning at about 7:30, I take the dog for a walk. As a nine-month old hound, Tahlequah is a bundle of energy. If she doesn’t get exercise, my day is miserable. She torments the cats. She barks at passersby. She destroys anything she can get her paws on. I used to view these walks as a nuisance, but now I recognize they’re beneficial to both man and beast.
Plus, they help me build social capital.
You see, there’s a loosely-knit group of neighborhood dog owners who tend to walk the same route at the same time every day. Several times each week, Tally and I run into Lara (walking Hunter), Peter (walking Footie), Chuck (walking Rory), Dave (walking Pippin), Susan (walking Flanders and Gigi), Danna (walking Artie), and a variety of other folks. We’ve been doing this walk for only a few months, but some of the dogs and their owners have strolled the beach for years.
As we walk, we talk. We get to know each other. We share what we know about our areas of expertise — real estate, psychology, personal finance — and what we know about the neighborhood. And we keep an eye on the area to make sure things are safe. For instance:
- On a recent walk, Lara’s partner told me about some local breweries I hadn’t heard of.
- When I mentioned I saw a house for sale in the neighborhood and wanted to know more, Susan emailed the RMLS info to me.
- Like the rest of Portland, our neighborhood is struggling with a surging homeless population. When people abandon their camps along the beach, we dogwalkers are the ones who haul out the trash.
Every morning, we’re building social capital. We’re strengthening the bonds between the members of this group (some of the folks are close friends), and we’re improving the overall quality of life in our neighborhood. This social capital might not be tangible, but it’s just as real and just as valuable as any other medium of exchange. Maybe more so. [Read more…]