Sunday, May 22, 2016

Etiquette and Community

What comes first? Is it etiquette or a sense of community? Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself hear but with all the dudes coming to the Missouri because their water is blown out, I think a discussion on etiquette is deserving.

So what is etiquette? Social norms that promote a sense of community. They are unwritten rules that the actors in the community abide by that help us get along. Community is a group of actors or participants that share a set of those norms. The more the actors adhere to the norms, the tighter the community. When the actors don't abide by the unwritten rules, the community becomes fractured.

Playing by the rules can lead us to having expectations. We adhere to those unwritten rules so everyone else should too, right? So when someone doesn't, we look at them and think, "Wow, what an asshole." We may even say it out loud or we might even go to that person and tell them and then they think, "Wow, what an asshole."

What comes first though, is it the community or those unwritten rules? It's definitely a 'chicken or the egg' kind of argument but the bottom line is, and this is the answer to that age-old question by the way, is that it's both because we are existentialists. We are both created by the community as well as being active participants that help create the community. We are governed by the rules as much as we help to make up the rules. Those rules evolve over time and we help make that happen.

All right, let me bring this back to fishing and guiding in particular. We used to have a pretty tight community in Craig, MT with the guides and outfitters. A few things have happened to fracture that community and I'm not going to go into those things but I will talk about the more relevant issues that are happening right now. The problem with etiquette is when we belong to the community and have participated in that community for a while, we think everyone else knows the rules, right? But as people come from across the state to fish because their water is blown out, they come from a different community and a different set of rules.

And it's not just the visitors either. We tend to get a lot of guides coming to the area because there are a lot of promises out there from outfitters that struggle to find guides in certain times of the year. As these new guides come in, there is no discussion with them on etiquette or even ethics, which is a totally different topic but one that should also be addressed. At any rate, any time a new player or actor or participant is introduced without knowing those unwritten rules, it set's up a situation where friction can definitely occur.

One can look at 'friction' as just being a place where opposing forces come together. One actor is going one way while all the others are going another, e.g., one guide is parking at the top of the run while everyone else is drifting down the run and then rowing back up to the top to do it again. Friction happens all over the river, in the parking lots, on the street in Craig and in the shops. To list all those unwritten rules that get broken would literally take a book.

But here's the deal. In order to help educate the new players as well as give the community members a voice, I'm going to be interviewing folks that are willing to talk and put them on the podcast. I know. At the end of all of this, it's just another shameless attempt at self-promotion but I do feel it's something we can all benefit from. Check it out; "The Montana Dream Cast" either on Podbean or iTunes.

Keep 'em where they live...

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