I live in Nevada City, a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 60 miles north-east of Sacramento. We have two (count ’em) Facebook groups, but not a lot of people.
The town itself only has about 3000 residents, though there’s probably 40,000 people within a 10 mile radius. So it’s not Moosejaw, Wyoming but it’s small enough that you don’t expect to bump into people who actually know of it, or live there.
But back in 2006, when we were launching Krugle at eTech in San Diego, up walks a guy from IBM with “Nevada City, CA” on his conference badge. David Fallside not only lives in town, he also manages one of IBM’s key open source groups. And now I run into him regularly at South Pine, our favorite breakfast place.
Next was a call from Mike Cassidy, one of the angel investors in Krugle. At the time he was still running Xfire, and he wanted to get in touch with Phil Wiser, the CTO of Sony America at that time. Mike had found out that Phil also lives in Nevada City – and eventually when I met Phil for breakfast, I realized he and his family were living in a house that I rode by several times a week.
Then I eating lunch during ApacheCon 2007 in George, chatting with two people who work for EMC. The guy mentions that he’s from California, I tell him I live in Nevada City, and he says “Oh yeah, one of the main people I work with lives there too.” It’s Gary Frankel, a regular member of the Tech Lunch group. We haven’t been doing well with our weekly gatherings, but for a while there we’d meet every Thursday for lunch at someplace like Tortilla Grill.
Finally, my brother-in-law pointed out an article in the most recent (November 2007) Smithsonian. It was “Beading the Way“, in the Around the Mall section. Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty is one of the best American Indian beadworkers, and a dress she made is a highlight of the “Identity by Design” exhibition at the National Museum. This dress took 10 months of daily work, and the article talks about how she was helped by her daughter and graddaughter, who live in North San Juan. This is an even smaller town located about 10 minutes north of Nevada City, close to where my brother-in-law lives.
It’s hard to understand why the above stories have a special feeling, unless you’re one of the lucky few who live in a small town. But it helps me now understand the pleasure my parents took in finding obscure connections with strangers we’d meet during our annual cross-country Volkswagen car trips. Usually these involved Lutheran ministers and Wisconsin…