Maria Giudice

Director of Product Design,

This conversation is closed.

What was the most amazing social experience you had and why?

I'm doing a research project on engaging, public, social experiences and trying to understand what makes them so special. Looking for patterns here, so, no wrong answers!

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    Feb 16 2011: I took a motorcycle tour of America, planning to camp along the way, in celebration of graduating, finally, from University. Left Seattle in early May on my BMW packed for the journey and headed down the Oregon Coast.

    About 2 months later, somewhere in central Nebraska, I was filling up the gas tank and cleaning bugs from the windshield. It was a warm, sunny, Sunday morning. A fellow driving a station wagon pulled into the station for fuel. His wife and 3 children, looked dressed for church as he did, sat in the vehicle while he tended to the fuel needs. He approached me and inquired about my trip, where was I going, where did I begin, was I having a good time. He was genuinely interested and I was happy to talk to someone about it. He asked if I had eaten breakfast yet and I replied no, not yet. Then he invited me to join them for breakfast at their home.

    I followed his car to their home in a nearby housing community of similar but not identical houses located in this uncrowded part of the state. I was a bit anxious when interacting with strangers but usually pushed ahead anyway. Breakfast was filled with bacon, eggs, toast and coffee and a lot of talking. Wonderful.

    About 2 hours later, after many thanks and several goodbyes, I put on my helmet, waved, and headed east.

    It was 1972 and a different time in America. The trip lasted 5 months and I would have many memorable moments from that journey. The family breakfast one sunny morning in Nebraska is one I recall often.
  • Feb 12 2011: There have been a couple of times in my life where I had made a friend almost instantly. Across cultures, once across a total language barrier. It's like my heart knows who its friends are. That almost mystical sense of connection meets all my criteria for amazing.
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    Feb 19 2011: I'm not old enough to have some of the strange experiences some of the other commenters have had, but here's one:

    I took a month off from university studies, June 2009, after a few tough months in university. I decided to travel alone, and went to Italy, using CouchSurfing contacts to host me. I spent the first week in Rome, then on the saturday, 6 June, I took the overnight train to Milano. I arrived very early on the 7th, and my host was not due arrive until later that night. I had a very big backpack with all my belongings in it, so it was very difficult to move. I sat in front of the station, and waited for Renato to arrive. After about half an hour of waiting, an old italian man approached me and tried to talk to me. I spoke no Italian at the time, and he spoke no English. Somehow, we communicated, and he took my hand, put my backpack in the luggage deposit, took me to the metro station, we arrived in Duomo, the main Cathedral, walked around it, then moved to La Scala, the main theater, then Gallaria, where he bought some delicious breakfast for me, then we walked to Castello, looking through the museums, and at the end of the day, he took me back to the train station, where left me again and i never saw him again.

    The strangest part of this is not that he picked me from the big crowd of people, or that he paid for everything, or that we communicated without speaking each other's language, but that 7 June was also my birthday!
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    Feb 17 2011: Learning social interactions from "DOGS":

    Lucy is a Parson Russell Terrier, a very friendly little fellow that loves to run and play with any breed of dogs. Everyday she gets her share of walks. She greets every dog that she can find on her way, wagging her tail, adopting a friendly attitude.
    Once, I find it odd that she started to bark to a type of Husky dog. The Husky's owner stops and pulls tight her's dog leash, it was at that moment that I did eye contact with woman and in a polite way I told her "Sorry", she didn't say any word or any facial expression just a very cold eye contact with me. I lower my eyes to see her beautiful dog and felt chills on my skin. The Husky sat in a very dominant way, it didn't bark at all, just sat there, its blue eyes fulminated against me. Then, I had realized that both master and dog assumed the same attitude towards me. What a weird experience!
    Back at home, I told my husband about the weird encounter. He immediately said that this dog it was the only dog that Lucy barks at. But, that others dogs owners commented to him about the same behavior expressed by their own dogs towards the same dog with its domineering stare. Next time, look at the Husky's eyes before Lucy's sees his, then you'll understand why dogs retaliate his challenging eyes.

    People behave in similar ways.

    By the look (kindly or preponderant) on their eyes at first sight, is all what we need to make a social contact with others. One can perceive, instinctively the intentions of others. Is a part of our surviving instincts.

    Next time you are where ever place, read peoples eyes. Some will be kind eyes, moody eyes, happy eyes, shy eyes, compassionate eyes, arrogant eyes, loving eyes, sorrowful eyes, flirting eyes, humble eyes, easy going eyes, worried eyes, inattentive eyes, affectionate eyes...

    Socializing with others, all depends on the eye's expressions.
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    Feb 17 2011: I just came back from one year exchange in Japan, I can recall two great social experiences that I had.

    It was summer and we had 3 months of vacation before the next semester started and with a friend we decided to do some traveling to Hiroshima, but in order to save to some money and get some great experiences we decided to do some hitchhiking from Kobe to Hiroshima, which is around a 5 hour travel. Hitchhiking is unusual in Japan, but because of the Japanese culture, people will always help you if you are in need. A lady with a 6 year old child too us two, me and my friend Maria all the way to Hiroshima. Her name was ..., she had never taken someone doing hitchhiking, but was truly excited about it, she told us that she felt inside a movie. Even though we where not fluent in the Japanese language, she did not mind explaining the most she could things we were not able to get a grasp on. We were really amazed to she how happy she felt to help a pair of Ecuadorian strangers, and how we never felt form her a sense of need of special retribution. Still before getting to our final destination we stop at ramen place, according to her the best ramen in the area, and invite her dinner, which she was really great-full.

    Also I went to some traveling in China, with my friend Gustavo, we had to take a train form Xi'an to Shanghai, but unfortunately, we had to take the "hard seat" class on a 24 hour train! It was kind of amusing to see how real Chinese people travel, I sensed that because we were the only foreigner on the train wagon. In China we had a great language barrier, because we spoke no Mandarin, but even so people in China are all about, make you fell part of the group. While in the train a man in front of me offered me sesame cookies, even though I was only able to say thank you. I felt like they embraced me as one of them and not as and outsider, it was truly amazing
  • Feb 17 2011: I returned back to my village in Afghanistan after almost 16 years.I was recently graduated from high school and was preparing for university entrance exam. During that time, I felt that the school students faced lack of resources especially having a good teach for the science subjects. I planned to start a short term program in my village and discussed with my family members and then with the elders of the village including the principle of the school. They all welcomed my plan and believed it a great opportunity for the future of their children. I printed out the announcements and spread them out to 9 villages.
    The program started in winter 2004 and I had a big list prepared before the classes have started. Almost 250 students registered for 7 different courses (math, chemistry, physics and English language). Each class lasted one hour everyday, six days a week. However, It was very cold during the winter and school was off but have never seen absence of student that could cause cancellation of a single class.
    The start time was 8:30 am everyday and I only had one hour for lunch and prayer. I become known in to everyone however I only spent few months of my life in the village. The thing out of my imagination was a disabled student walking for 30 minutes in (-1 to -15 degree Celsius) to attend a math class and later I noticed that people are coming from far to get most out of the opportunity.
    After the completion of program, next year when the students took the entry test to the University, 80% of them got admission to the university in their preferred field of studies (Engineering, Science, Medical, Pharmacy etc).
    Now I am doing my masters in U.S but when I was there, the people call me "teacher" and I feel very happy interacting with my students and having a conversation with them.
    I hope this helps your research.
    Thanks
    Ahmad Jawed Samsor
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      Feb 17 2011: Dear Mr. Jawed,
      I thank you for the opportunity you gave us in learning about your personal experience, helping students in Afghanistan.
      You have a spirit of compassion and empathy. We need more humans with this type of vision, a speciality so scarce and indispensable in this troubled world.

      "Que florezcan rosas sobre su camino"
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      Feb 17 2011: Amazing story.

      What do you think it would take to get help to Afghanistan to become more humanitarian oriented (such as yours) vs. military-based?

      In your opinion, is the US military there serving any useful purpose or should it leave?
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    Feb 17 2011: I am one of those humans that believes 'sex is everything' ....from the moment that most handsome individual unique miraculous creative genius of a sperm made that amazing journey into the unknown in order to find that most beautiful individual unique miraculous creative genius egg....and to connect and integrate in the most orgasmic manner of joyous bliss....that 'momentary peaceful ecstatic bliss' of being oneself has been my most memorable memory of 'being a social life.' ....on occasion while in the mist of that breathing, in out in out in out rhythmic exchange of life force, while intuitively connecting intuitively with ALL my multiple intelligences...on occasions that orgasmic memory returns me into that social memory of BEING ONESELF. I have been graciously blessed to have experienced that meditative state of union on many occasions.

    One of my most memorable social moments came to me during the last day of our (the great peace march ) walk across america in 1986...we were having a rally across from the white house with notable speakers (Carl Sagen at the time) when spontaneously a semi-large group of marchers connected into a circle connecting in such amazing love...a group memory of the past nine months, connecting as one...then the immediate sensation of separation when WE all knew it was over and the time to dis-connect and separate and go our own unique ways...WE all broke into the most intense hysterical crying for a couple of minutes before breaking up the tight close intense hugging circle....it was so complete, so intense, so everything...the closest thing i have experienced of what i would refer to as a group orgasm....it was the closet feeling to what each and every cell in my body must go through with each and every division of dna. As that day approaches the 25th anniversary, I have had many many many amazing social experiences that have intuitively blown me away to new worlds, but that moment in Lafayette Park was that first step into utopia.
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    Feb 16 2011: I was travelling the Far East with my brother and a friend about twenty years ago. At a waterfall in Bali we met a local guy a few years younger than us who invited us to stay in his village for the night. We went and were followed everywhere we went by most of the village children. We seemed to be introduced to anyone who was of importance but our host was the only person who spoke (broken) English so we struggled to work out where we were going and who we were meeting.

    Everyone was extremely friendly and could not do enough for us. Later we were asked for money to buy food by our host. They were not a wealthy village so this seemed OK. The village was Muslim (a minority in Bali) and it was our first taste of being woken up at night for prayers. As as a result it was all very different and without doubt one of my best experiences whilst travelling.

    In the morning our host took us north to our next port of call. We were just about to say thank you by way of a few Rupiah when he asked for money. We were very upset to be asked for money and explained this to him. We also explained that we were just about to offer him a 'thank you'. He seemed upset to be told this. We gave him the Rupiah anyway and parted company.

    Twenty years later I'm still not sure what to make of this experience and whether or not we were right to feel aggrieved at being asked for money.

    Am I glad we took the decision to stay in a village in the middle of nowhere with strangers? Absolutely! Would I want my kids to make the same decision? Probably
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    Feb 15 2011: I am the licensee for TEDxGrandRapids (http://tedxgrandrapids.org and www.facebook.com/tedxgrandrapids).

    This is the event's inaugural year and I am new to West Michigan having moved here from Dallas. I started this project in August of 2010 with zero contacts in Grand Rapids. The amazing staff of volunteers that have come together for this event was sourced almost exclusively via social media. When we need resources or contacts, we reach out on Twitter and Facebook, and for the most part, we get connected to what we need.

    Having been in business development for most of my career, I am astounded at the efficacy of social media towards social projects.

    Today I had the pleasure of listening to Clay Shirky speak in Grand Rapids. We discussed how social media, and especially Facebook and Twitter, are excellent tools for harnessing the cognitive surplus. TEDxGrandRapids is proof of that!
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      Feb 15 2011: As organizer of TEDxJuanDeFuca in BC, Canada, and being new to my area as well, I just want to say that you're right on. It is incredible how people come together over something they all believe in(TED), how easy the internet has made this.
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    Feb 26 2011: In 2006 the U2 Vertigo tour concert was about to end. It had been scheduled to end on April 2005 but it was postponed to Dec 2006.

    I am part of the global U2 fan community, and going to the tour opener or tour closer is a huge thing. Not only for the music but for the people. There are many of us that do multiple shows on a tour. I have heard of people doing 90% of the tour following the band around.

    Due to the postponement, many people could not go. One person that was supposed to go was a fan named Noreen. But she had been diagnosed with cancer and passed away in late November. Because of the internet and doing multiple shows, the "diehards" of the community get to know each other pretty well, and we were crushed. Then came the realization that there is only the moment. That planning for the future is planning but there is no certainty. So someone decided they would buy a scalped ticket and a plane ticket and go. Then someone else decided to go, and then someone else, and so on.

    The concert was on the same weekend as Pearl Harbor anniversary, the Honolulu marathon and a big surfing championship, so no rooms where available, anywhere. So fans that were already going opened their hotel rooms and condos to let the new people go. I decided to go about a week before the show. No ticket, no place to sleep, nothing. After 24hrs of announcing my intention I had both.

    The day before the show, people started to camp out to get good spots for the show. But many of us were utterly unprepared to camp out, and it did not matter. So, that night, in the Aloha Stadium parking lot, over 2000 U2 fans from all over the world slept on pool flotation devices, blankets, cushions, anything they could find. Because it was the last show of the tour, because we lost our friend, because we needed to be together, and that show, and the experience was AMAZING. And during "Where the Streets have no name" I looked around and saw that I was surrounded by 100's of friends & cried f/ sheer joy
  • Feb 26 2011: Almost 30 years ago I was showing Trudy, a person in her 20s with severe cerebral palsy, how to use an adapted PC hooked up to the pre-web Internet. As someone in a wheelchair who experienced little physical control and understandable speech all of her life, Trudy's social experience had always been colored by the disability lens through which others perceived and responded to her. Although she was slow in using her adapted keyboard to communicate, she had developed quite a few 'macros' that would type out phrases and sentences based on shortcuts.

    Using that system we could 'see' that someone a thousand miles away was checking their online mailbox and she 'fingered' them by typing out 'hello' to him. I've never forgotten the scream of joy that she let out when he responded, asking how she was. I watched in goose-bumped fascination as I watched her make a friend who, for the first time in her life, didn't know she was disabled.

    That moment changed the course of my life as I marveled at the real human-empowering benefits of technology and have since worked, in my own small way, to bend the relationship that human's have towards their tools and technologies in this direction,... and away from having people serve it, as often tends to happen.

    Thanks Maria for the question ... and the pleasant swing down memory lane. :-)

    b.
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    Feb 25 2011: Back in 2003 I was working for a NGO in Bogotá and I had to travel to the countryside, in the south-west.
    Once in San Vicente, I had to visit some rural schools in order to assess whether or not they were complying with some requirements to get computers donated by a Presidential Program called "Computadores para Educar". The 1st one was in an county called Guacamayas: extremely beautiful landscape but no public utilities at all. There was only one road to access the small county... but THEY DID HAVE DIRECT-TV!!! Warner Channel was more popular than Shakira. They had a small power station which worked from 5 am to 7 pm, but if you wanted or needed some electricity afterwards, then you had to pay like 5 USD for an extra hour (please notice that here even a dollar makes a difference between a meal and no meals at all during a day). Teachers and the principal of the school were so nice.... the principal allowed me to sleep at his place and he took me around the whole county to see how peasants and children lived.

    Then I had to move to another school, in another county like 2 hours from Guacamayas by car and 2 more hours by motorboat. I met people just as friendly as the people in Guacamayas but they were having so many disagreemts!. Computers were not working because school-administrators and the community did not agree to collect the money to get a voltage regulator. The astonishing thing was that they already had managed do the most difficult things: they BUILT an entire new classroom and they got new chairs and tables to put the computers in so they set up a public computer-room. But they had been stuck the last months because of a voltage regulator. I had to go almost door by door to get an extraordinary meeting and to get agreement about this last issue.

    I met a 25-year old guy. He had been teaching his whole life in rural schools. Although he did not know what life was like in the cities, he seemed TRULY happy to be a math teacher for peasant's children.
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    Feb 23 2011: I recently reconnected with a friend from school and discussed new media/social projects that we've been working on in the past 2 years or so. He lives in Washington D.C. and focuses on "political awareness"--he's not a native Washingtonian, so he has a great positive approach to probe the political scene.

    Last month he took rolls of grass bedding and trucked them to the Mall in a wheel barrow he constructed. He placed the grass down in several consecutive metered parking spots. He then paid a days worth for the spots and in turn extended the public park space.

    His work is positive and thought provoking and I enjoy those experiences. Thanks Blake.
  • Feb 20 2011: A sad story but I was told one Monday morning in high school of the suicide of a good friend. He was the smartest guy I knew at the time and the best athlete (though he'd never try out for any of the teams). I couldn't even get close enough to family members to find out more of Dewey. I still hurt inside when I think about all the waste - maybe he'd be a contributor to something SO special. I made no vow or other statement but I'm sure the reason I'm still alive is because I knew it was such an awful waste. He could talk to me as if I were a child and he an adult. The experience I had that day changed me as no other in my life.

    That days' impact has never left me, though it was long ago.

    It IS difficult to find an occurrence so amazing in my life, there are so many others of importance, but that changed my life more than any other.
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    Feb 20 2011: Hard to pick just one... a great one was when I was probably about 17 or 18. At the time I was studying jazz trombone and played in several groups. Periodically I'd go to a jazz club nearby and sit in on the open mike nights. I wasn't very good, but I was learning. Most of the regulars were in their 30's/40's - some pretty talented players. But every once in a while there'd be a big concert in the city and then the band would come out to this club after to jam at the open mike night. On those nights the club was filled the old guard - guys who played with Diz, the Duke, the Count, etc. When I'd get on stage to jam with them, I was beyond nervous - it was like being plucked from a backyard soccer match to play in the World Cup finals. But the moment the music started, it was like I had a magic instrument. I couldn't play a wrong note. In fact, it felt like they knew was I was going to play before I played; that I was playing a piece of pre-composed music and we had been practicing it for weeks.

    I eventually realized that these musicians possessed a set of skills that transcended musical ability. They understood the music so well that they could focus their entire attention on trying to understand me. They would figure out what I was going to play from the most subtle nuances in my body language. Then they'd create a perfect supporting structure and even put in anticipatory flairs to assist me, just so I didn't accidentally forget where I wanted to go! They were literally playing me as if I were just another instrument. They were also doing this to each other, which is why even the simplest of songs had a vibrancy and resonance beyond what the acoustics of the room could ever hope to provide.
    • Feb 20 2011: I was amazed to read the liner notes for my CD of "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis had a description of Dwayne Allman listening to that album over and over for the inspiration it gave him to improvise. I've always liked both: it was great to see those two rivers flow together.
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    Feb 19 2011: My report is longer than the 2000 characters allowed so please read it at http://marktakefman.blogspot.com/
    Thanks
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    Feb 19 2011: Connecting with people on Twitter and building a bridge of friendship over one year culminating in a trip to China to speak at TedxCanton. That was an amazing social experience!
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    Feb 18 2011: I decided for the first time in my life to vote. I was over fifty.

    It was most likely my son who motivated me. To get involved, to make sure his future was as bright as bright could be.

    I studied ALL the presidential candidates via their web sites...i live in iowa so i had that early advantage of getting to meet anyone running for president as they are all hungy and desperate and willing to met everyone that will help in opening up the path to the big white house at that point in their journey.

    I loved the concept of having a women president. But when i came across a statement in one of the candidates websites about EMPOWERING THE PEOPLE! WOW, what would that FEEL like, BE like, MANIFEST as????? i meditated and contemplated on the subject day in and day out, spent nights dreaming about EMPOWERMENT and what that meant for MY life.

    I came to the conclusion WE all OWN the key to THE WHITE HOUSE. I didn't really HAVE a physical key to the front door or back door or any door ...so i made calls to pella door company to see what it would take to put in a new door to THE WHITE HOUSE so i could physically have a KEY. While working on that issue of integrating symbolism with reality, it came to me that I AM LIVING in a white house AND the house i grew up in, which my eighty year old mom still LIVES in, was WHITE....and I HAD THE KEYS to both those homes. So, i put those two white house keys, symbolizing the key to THE WHITE HOUSE on a beaded key chain that my son had made in kindergarten.

    Next, i decided to give those keys to that presidential candidate which i felt i wanted to SEE in the white house in order for EVERYONE to get to experience EMPOWERMENT, especially my son. The candidate was speaking in my local community when, after the political speech to a rather large basketball gymnasium filled crowd, i handed over THE WHITE HOUSE KEYS.

    EMPOWERMENT synchronized with past future now. The most immediate intense amazing FEELING of total ALIVENESS, incredible!
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    ju mao

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    Feb 18 2011: I organise a group of people to share their life experiencesor work often.
    Sometimes, i choose a topic we discuss, sometimes the topic submit by others' interests.
    It's give fun to talk the topic like : what is love? Or someone need help, she can speak out her concern, others can try to help her find solutions. ..
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    Feb 18 2011: The NYC subway is a unique experience to me. To be so close to so many people at the same time makes me think how connected we are. I feel like a blood cell inside the veins. The minutes spent inside the train are always very entertaining to me. I pay attention on everething, how people dress, talk, walk, etc. And, the next stop, everybody is gone and new people come to enjoy the ride.
    I love nature and it relaxes my body and mind, but as a artistic person I need inpiration, and what inspires me the most is people. To me there is no better place than NYC, specialy the subway, to make me feel part of the society.
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    Feb 17 2011: 2 years ago, I went to Perth, Australia with a choir of 40 people. The trip was organized by my church and we were all religious in our own way. Perth has the only Australian community in our church.

    When we arrived, we noticed a crowd of people standing at the airport at 4 am. It turns out everyone came to welcome us, even though they all had to get up for work at 7 am. We then proceeded to having the most wonderful 2 weeks of my life there with those people. The amazing part was that they accepted us in their homes and treated us as brothers and sisters. this felt great, on a personal level.

    It made such an impression on me that even now I still think about those people as my brothers and sisters.
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    Feb 17 2011: When i lived in christchurch about 10 years ago,i was lucky enough to live on a bus route and utlilised the bus to go to and from work each day. the bus journey was always interesting for different reasons, many different people jumping on and off, some engaging, some shy and others with little respect for others. I enjoy watching people and the bus is a great vehicle for this (so to speak). For a few weeks in a row i would get off the bus at the same time that another person would be getting off a different bus and heading off for the day. Each day we would pass each other walking in different directions, each day we wouldnt make eye contact and each day i felt pity for him whilst enjoying what i thought was non contact. Why pity...this man was quite over weight, he walked heavy and looked uncomfortable, I was very quick to judge and perceive that life was tough for this man....quite wrongly i am sure. Each day we would avoid eye contact....men dont make eye contact anyway do they? So why was i enjoying this non contact, well he smelt great....yep my perception of this man was in turmoil with my sense of smell. This non interaction went on for weeks, each day getting off the bus, walking passed each other, our heads slightly lowered, he walking by and me strangly taking a smell of him. one day i plucked up the courage to stop him and ask " hey can i ask what your cologne is?" He quite politely replied...oh its joop for men, do you like it...yes i said...followed by thanks and kept walking. Every day after that we said a quick "morning" made eye contact and we both seemed to be walking with purpose. The next day after we actually made verbal contact i went out and brought a bottle of Joop and have been wearing it everyday since...and with the same resulting questions from both men and women of to its label - Thank you stranger
  • Feb 17 2011: A small one compared to the below responses ..
    As Corporate leaders/employees we tend to go out to NGOs, Streets etc to do charity, It's sad that we don't see the ones in need around. I got an opportunity to train the Security gaurds in our office. It was a need and I stepped up to do it. These individuals were not great communicators or had no basic Telephone Etiquette and it was a joy to share knowledge ..
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    Feb 17 2011: I have two that were equally amazing to me. First, in the early 80's,I attended the anti-Nuke march in NYC but belonged to no organized group. My boyfriend and I jumped in randomly to join the march. We found ourselves surrounded by a group of smiling Asian people with small umbrellas attached to their heads. They were victims/survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was in awe and moved deeply. As we marched across Manhattan toward the west side, we were inspired to teach our new friends the song, "All we are saying is give peace a chance." As we neared the Dakota, where John Lennon had recently been assassinated, Yoko Ono was looking out the window. I led these survivors and all others nearby in singing Give Peace a Chance to her as we walked by. It was unforgettable.

    I work with communities in conflict, such as ranchers, environmentalists and other interested publics in the American West. There'd been so many death threats to federal land managers in one Idaho town, they had to travel in pairs or not at all. I was asked to facilitate this group of polarized individuals who wore Birkenstocks, cowboy boots and government badges and engage them in finding solutions that they could all agree upon. After a process of genuine listening and dialogue on all sides of the issues to find common ground over many weeks, the most shut down, defended rancher who always had his arms folded firmly across his chest and an angry look across his face asked, "Is it time for the group hug now?" He meant it. It was the journey, not compromise, that led us to that place. That was the first of many such experiences over the next ten years.
  • Feb 16 2011: running a school project for the parents' council focused on sustainability,
    rallying the kids and their parents around a common goal, focused to win a prize
    and actually getting to the point of implementation
    sharing that common victory, which resulted in some very simple, yet visible and "livable" changes on the school playgrounds made everybody's lives so much more fun
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    Feb 16 2011: I found Tom Atlee through his book, The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World that World for All
    http://www.phibetaiota.net/2003/11/the-tao-of-democracy-using-co-intelligence-to-create-a-world-that-works-for-all/
    but meeting him face to face was transformative. Tom is the one absolutely authentic person I know, and his wisdom and his focus on collective intelligence broke me free from the government secret intelligence paradigm, and added me to the larger collective public intelligence workforce.

    More recently he has written and posted:

    Evolutionary Activism by Tom Atlee
    http://www.phibetaiota.net/2010/01/coming-soon-evolutionary-activism-by-tom-atlee/

    Tom Atlee Proposes distributed-intelligence, crowd-sourcing participatory think tank for popular common-sense policies, unhindered by party affiliations and ideology
    http://www.phibetaiota.net/2010/12/tom-atlee-proposes-distributed-intelligence-crowd-sourcing-participatory-think-tank-for-popular-common-sense-policies-unhindered-by-party-affiliations-and-ideology/

    In the terms of your question, what Tom taught me was that no amount of stove-piped book reading, however broad, can substitute for face to face conversations with a diversity of participants.
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    Feb 16 2011: This might be a wrong answer, and it's definitely unique.
    Just living in the weeks following the initial global publicity around a DC sex scandal to which I was related, then almost two years later after the release of a documentary film in which I appeared. As someone who had fought for many years to just "fit in" and not "stand out," I was suddenly given a mantle of celebrity that went everywhere with me--around DC, Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Houston. In exchange for unflinching honesty about a dark time in my past, I was lauded by total strangers and thanked for standing up to oppressive forces and being open with my truth. And it came without stalkers or papparazzi! I often said that I wished everyone could have the same experience of being recognized and appreciated unexpectedly and so often.
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    Feb 16 2011: It was during a youth convention. It was first time I interacted with deaf and dumb people. One of the major themes of convention was diversity. I could see it in action because those people were no longer disabled for me but differently-abled. They were so humorous and can even dance in coordination through their amazing sense of feeling the vibes out of speaker. Each had a great talent.

    Another one is online. I have made great friend from India as we both are staunch believers of Pak-India friendship because of the shared history of both nations. Amazing person. We have worked on e-projects as well.
  • Feb 16 2011: Interesting question!

    Social experience: I showed up to help after Hurricane Katrina. The help became secondary to the people I met, our interactions, my glimpse of the human spirit at its best.

    Why: requires a bit more thought. Maybe because we were stripped of all life's bullshit. The playing field had been leveled, so to speak. There was no comparing of social position or better-paying jobs. That basic commonality we look for in social situations was destroyed - our only common ground was our humanity and this enormous sense of loss. The only thing that truly mattered was how you were going to RESPOND right here, right now.

    And yet we remained individuals. As I remember names and faces, all were unique - and remain vividly so today. A positive experience DID grow from this horrendous event - and I classify it as "amazing" because it changed me, changed the way I see people, and I'll carry it with me to my grave.
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    Feb 16 2011: Like most, I don't have specific examples. All my life I have been a social being, happy to say to have enjoyed many many amazing social experiences.

    This Valentine's, the TEDxJakarta team held a rather 'accidental' Free Hugs campaign. It's not an entirely new concept, but it was a crazy amazing time and social experience.

    Read the story here: tedx.posterous.com/hugcampaign-on-valentines-day

    It was so amazing because we pulled off something people thought impossible in a relatively conservative country. In the process we shared warmth, compassion and a bit of idealism. We connected not only with our team members but also with strangers through the simple act of hugging them.
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      ju mao

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      Feb 20 2011: It sounds interesting!
  • Feb 16 2011: I was a field hockey player and group of us organise a field hockey tournament in the name of our club founder. This year I visited Pune India , watched all the matches of 28 teams. On final day all the veteran players gathered watched the match , attended prize distribution . Clicked a lot of pictures .I found every one was in elevated status of mind as we connected to our lost identity through the game and players.
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    Feb 15 2011: In 2000 I was an exchange student coming from Romania, Bucharest, in a small Long Island town, Mount Sinai. Imagine the questions I got from all the people I met during my stay, as most did not know where Romania was on the map, not to mention any other information, like living conditions and level of education. I come from a moderately wealthy family but I represent a growing social class, and even at that time I was above the American mean.Starting from the image of a rural African country they had imagined about Romania, they were astonished to find out I had at that time, more TV sets and cable internet, 2 cars and even a more lavishing lifestyle than some of them. By the end of my year there, I had managed to share a lot of information about my country to so many people . In case anyone would like to know more about us Romanians, please feel free to leave a note:)
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    Feb 15 2011: Hi,

    I think I can point to two social experiences that left me with inspiration and passion.

    The first was my wedding. Noa (my wife) and I had a beautiful Friday afternoon summer wedding. It was fantastic, and I remember telling Noa during the wedding that it feels like a great party where you happen to know everybody.

    The second was a seminar I attended three months ago. I prefer not to state the name of the company, since I am not sure if they would like this kind of publicity, however the seminar made me realize great, meaningful and powerful things about my life. It gave me tools how to act on the parts of my life that I feel are not working are well as I would like them to. And I feel the value everyday of my life.
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    Feb 15 2011: My most positive social experiences and strongest ties have always occurred while overcoming trials with a group of co-conspirators.

    Reforestation in the Northern Canadian Summer is the epitome of this. Each of us struggling to planting thousands of trees per day. Faces swollen from black fly bites. Pushing the shitty old school bus we got around in out of the muddy ditch. Working 17 straight days of 12 hours. Laughing. Crying. Drew, Naomi, Tom, Eric, Justin, Fitz, Moe and others... I'll never forget those people.

    I love social media and the new connections it fosters. It will probably help me to orchestrate future groups of people overcoming shared obstacles. I believe strongly though that real shared experience and especially overcoming adversity are what create the strongest bonds and experiences.

    I'm curious about your research... where can I learn more?
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      Feb 16 2011: Thanks for your comments John:

      I'm working with a team to design an event for people who are interested in deepening social relationships using the science of positive emotions. I'd like to know what makes events personal, special, and interesting. If you send me your email address, I'll be sure to share what I've learned (maria at hotstudio dot com) when I'm done.
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    Feb 15 2011: American people i met in Nashville and vegas' bars have completely different social habits especially with people who come from countries like Egypt, i still do not know what interest them and particularly women. i think they evaluate people by their citizenship or just knowing where they come from which one of the most questions they ask. i believe many of them attracted to whoever know how to scoff at them.
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    Feb 15 2011: I and some people of my company participate for charity in a brazilian association for orphan kids. We prepare some games for them. Each of us brought a especial and funny thing to them, like a clown costume, jump bags, etc. I brought some ballons that I used to make some ballon's pet. I had to learn to do this in one night through internet videos. This was amazing. The kids loved the games and we had fun a lot.
    I thought it amazing because the experience has been more construtive to people who organized than for the kids.
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    Feb 15 2011: Last summer I put together a surprise "quinceanera" party (kind of Sweet 16, but at 15) for my daughter. The party was in Argentina but I did all the planing from New Jersey. One afternoon I was cutting the tablecloths on my kitchen table with my mom helping me from the computer, on chat web from sudamerica. Technology gave my mother the chance to enjoy every moment of the preparations, even thousands of miles away.
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    Feb 15 2011: I do agree with Mark, it has to do with people meeting in a place where each enjoy the time spend there, to me the place where I connect with someone does not mean agreeing on everything but being able to share ideas and understand each point of view as a valid one.
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    Feb 14 2011: The night the Phillies won the World Series. My husband and I live in Center City Philadelphia, it's a perfect warm autumn night and we're watching the game in our living room with the backdoor open. At the last out, across the city, you can hear this vague noise just growing and growing. My husband and I looked at each other and we KNEW we had to walk down to Broad Street and be in the crowd. Dozens of other people are walking with us in this same direction; one guy who's walking the other way is high-fiving everyone he passes. Cars are honking, people are yelling from windows. We all have one purpose: Get to Broad Street. And the people on Broad Street are just so ... happy! Hugging strangers, running in circles, getting shoulder to shoulder around news cameras to go Whoooooo. Someone high up in one of the office buildings is throwing sheets of copier paper one by one down into the street like giant confetti. There's no organized activity, no giant TV screens, no celebrities, just sheer happiness, warmth, community. It was a really magical 20 minutes. Then some knuckleheads broke a window and whoops. But if you could bottle that first 20 minutes ...
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    Feb 14 2011: I once spent a weekend with a really interesting group of people in a house that had a swimming pool. Late at night, after an intellectually exhausting day, a group of us were in the swimming pool. There was loud dance music pounding and the pool was lighted by tunable LED lights that were syncing to the beat. One of us discovered that if you struck the top of the water, the splash would be colored by the LED lights in a cool. Blue-Man-Groupey kind of way. Almost instantly a water drumming circle formed, each of us pounding on the top of the water to create musically and visually interesting splashes. It was a fantastic individual experience but, despite the fact that not a word was exchanged, a far more powerful group experience. I strongly suspect you could not replicate the moment. But those of us who participated will never forget it.