An Argument for a NSJ/Ridge Time Zone (a metaphor with a local business punch line)

“Why don’t we create a ridge time zone?” was a question asked of the panel at the recent NSJ Economic Resiliency Workshop Jan. 9, 2014. It brought a few chuckles, but generally wasn’t taken too seriously and perhaps seemed out of place at a meeting intended to spur local economic development, but I think the question hit the nail on the head.

Maintaining our quality of life

A professor at the University of Portsmouth in the reference of the social effect of time standardization on communities said, “We have so many metaphors for time and its passing – we think of time as a ‘thing’ – we say ‘the weekend is nearly gone’; ‘she’s coming up to her exams’; ‘I haven’t got the time’, and so on, and we think such statements are objective, but they aren’t. We’ve created these metaphors and they have become the way we think.  Time is more to do with experience than being inborn in us. The only real biological clock is the ageing of our bodies. All our complex concepts of time are cultural inventions, a kind of technology of the mind.”

“The Babylonians invented the convention of a 24-hour day, of 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and we’re so used to being ruled by the calendar and clock that we don’t reflect on it. But our notion of time is a double-edged sword. We wouldn’t have the benefits of our socially and technologically complex society without it. But it’s also, a burden and a source of increasing stress in our modern 24/7 lifestyle.” (* see link for this article at the end of this blog)

Standardized Time

With increasing worldwide communication and trade (starting with the sailing merchant ships, then trains, telegraph, telephones, airplanes, etc) there was an increased need for the “interacting parties to communicate mutually in a comprehensible time reference to one another”. Time zones were a created compromise between local solar time (noon is when the sun is straight up) and this communication need.  The buy-line in the 1870’s was “time standardization” was essential and primarily beneficial for “efficient” commerce, which is why Standard Time was first known as Railway Time and was equated to a corporate takeover in many localities. The railway companies faced concerted resistance from local people who refused to adjust their public clocks to bring them into line. Often, two different times would be displayed in the stations, clocks with local time and clocks with the published train timetables, sometimes differing by tens of minutes or hours from that on local clocks.  Right to the end there was opposition expressed by many smaller towns and cities to the imposition of railway time. For example, in Indianapolis the report in the daily Sentinel for November 17, 1883 protested that people would have to “eat sleep work … and marry by railroad time”

Considering the NSJ lifestyle, and in reality most local community priorities, are significantly contrary to the global 24/7 economy, a NSJ Time zone obviously has its appeal, but the reality of needing to participate in the “global” economy to maintain local vitality, must be balanced.  So, how can NSJ/the ridge symbolically create their own time zone?

Own your time with vibrant small businesses

Empower NSJ and the ridge to determine their own future and keep its traditions and community alive by owning your personal time and setting a personal pace of participation so that time does not own you…

The ridge is definitely not for a lack of good ideas, but there are limitations keeping these ideas from being enacted – one of the major problems are there are no “stations” (to keep the railway time analogy going) to get onto the high speed internet communication exchange.  An essential part of participation and keeping a small business vibrant is high speed access and delivery of information on the internet.   Both broadband internet and electricity infrastructure need to be expanded throughout Nevada County, but especially in District 4 and on the ridge.  Serious discussions regarding the formation of Public Municipal Utilities for electricity and broadband internet need to happen.  I’ve already had exploratory conversations with representatives from NID of the real possibility of energy independence for the whole county by utilizing NID’s existing capacities partnered with a Nevada County Public Utility.

Other basic infrastructure safety needs like:  a fire hydrant infrastructure and a sewage system for the NSJ business areas are needed for continued resilience.  Public transportation challenges need to be addressed.

Other counties provide this basic support to their communities, why can’t we?  In reality Nevada County is in a much better situation than most counties and can be proactive instead of reactive in this support.  The first step to being proactive and taking charge of our communities is to grasp more fully the levers of self-governance by chartering our county.   After chartering, Nevada County can create a Nevada County Bank by reinvesting a small percentage of Nevada Counties assets (currently sitting in a “Wall St.” bank) to capitalize this county bank, then with partnership loans of small regional banks an efficient economic engine can be turned on to guide reinvestment of those assets back into the community.  Through the public bank this infrastructure can be created using our own assets and it would be cheaper and more efficient than through Wall St. mechanisms.  One comment made by one of the panelists at the January Economic Resilience Workshop seemed to sum this up very elegantly (I wrote this right under Sagi from Sunlight Botanicals name in my notes,  so I am attributing it to him), “A real free market allows independent business models the freedom to run your business your way.”  Is this not owning your time zone?

For more information on the simple realities of instituting these ideas here are links to other papers and blogs I’ve written about these concepts with working examples:


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