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A simple way to say this is that the sense of friendship has been lost from our relationships. Plato said, "Friendship is, strictly speaking, reciprocal benevolence, which inclines each party to be as solicitous for the welfare of the other as for his own. Relationships are our most precious resource. Knowing that, how do we value and utilize the resource of our relationships? The Goodenough Community Renton Ave. This non-residential community is a group of several hundred individuals, living in the Puget Sound area, who are interested in how community can be an agent for societal change and a resource for living.

The group is not defined by place or activity but by covenant, the core of which is the commitment to be the finest person possible at both the level of character and integrity, and to compassionately work with others to express that integrity in appropriate ways. The community formed, almost as a byproduct, around the interactions of a variety of professional people engaged in putting on an annual Human Relations Laboratory — a human relations training event.

People connected with these events began to network — and found many ways to work, play and learn together. Much of the underlying work of the community has to do with learning about relationships, interpersonal skills and becoming a better friend. In our search for individual excellence, we are also concerned to find the practical ways of utilizing the valuable resource of our friends.

A Council of Friends Some uses of friendship have a long-term application. My wife and I practice marriage and family counseling. In our desire to maintain high standards of integrity and performance, we have asked a variety of our friends to gather as an Advisory Council — a council of friends — and we have entered into a covenant of accountability with them.

Practically Galactically Speaking

The function of the Council is to examine and critique our work and suggest areas for change and growth. Each member has been selected for a specific reason and charged with the responsibility to oversee a particular aspect of our work. Some members, who are current clients, are asked to monitor our work and give us feedback. Others are colleagues, assigned to roles which help us relate better to professional issues of our practice. Each person is carefully placed in a role and contracted to remain in that role even when the Council is not in session.

We keep in close communication: each member checks in with us periodically, and we call individuals when we have a question relevant to their roles.


Advisory Council members are encouraged to talk to each other freely about us and their concerns for us. The Council holds scheduled meetings two or three times a year, but meets as frequently as necessary in a time of need or crisis.

3 of the Universe's Most Extreme Galaxies

This council of friendly advisors has worked well, giving us support, encouragement, guidance and feedback — as well as providing us with a sense of being part of a larger whole, to which we are accountable. Indeed, it is the most demanding and enjoyable system of accountability that I have ever experienced.

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This evaluation allows you to choose people who can give you the specific assistance you need, and help compensate for your weaknesses while drawing out your strengths. Creating a circle of friends, that "mutual benevolence" of which Plato speaks, gives us both tangible assistance and a sense of being vitally connected with others. Self-employed people, from accountants to artists, are finding that their former sense of isolation was self-imposed, and that, with friends, they can enjoy help with creativity, management, marketing and public relations. These experiments in practical friendships are resulting in many people becoming more open to their dreams of how life can really be — and in more people asking for help rather than remaining isolated and depressed.

Short Term Help from Our Friends Some uses of friendship are short term, such as assistance during a crisis.

Remarkable flares from the galactic center

How many people do you know that you could count on to help you in an emergency? Gandhi reminds us that "The test of friendship is assistance in adversity, and that, too, unconditional assistance. Cooperation which needs consideration is a commercial contract and not friendship. Conditional cooperation is like adulterated cement which does not bind. Mary, a single parent, was called away to be with her dying father, and she knew she would be away from home for at least a week.

She gathered a group of friends together to ask for some very practical help. She asked Alice to stay with her children and get them off to school and Fred, a neighbor, to take her son to soccer practice. A co-worker volunteered to cover certain aspects of her job, and her pastor promised to come by and talk with her children while she was gone. Upon her return a week later, one of her friends picked her up at the airport, and the entire group gathered to meet with her.

Another short-term use of friendship might be asking for support during a time of transition such as a change in job or in a process of actualizing a life dream. Unable to tolerate her old job any longer, she gathered her friends together and in just a few evenings of discussion was able to articulate her dream of creating an exciting new job and then to become comfortable with it. She went on to open her own office, develop a successful practice and enjoy the friendship of colleagues. In the process she was able to identify valuable attributes of several of these colleagues and friends, and asked them to become advisors to her new practice.

The Goodenough community has rediscovered the ancient concept of discernment to assist people in making major life decisions.

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The word discern comes from the Middle French discerner, which refers to a grain separator and to the process of separating chaff from wheat. Friends are selected to help look at all aspects of a decision. They do not make the decision, but help you become aware of elements you had not considered yet.

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Scientists have discovered a new exoplanet that, in the language of "Star Wars," would be the polar opposite of frigid Hoth, and even more inhospitable than the deserts of Tatooine. But instead of residing in a galaxy far, far away, this new world is, galactically speaking, practically next door.

Practically Galactically Speaking

The new planet, named GJ b, is Earth-sized and rocky, orbiting a small star located a mere 39 light-years from Earth, making it the closest Earth-sized exoplanet yet discovered. Astrophysicists from MIT and elsewhere have published these findings today in the journal Nature. Based on their measurements, the scientists have determined that the planet is a roasting degrees Fahrenheit, and is likely tidally locked, meaning that it has a permanent day and night side, presenting the same face to its star, much like our moon is locked to the Earth.

Because of its scorching temperatures, GJ b most likely cannot retain liquid water on its surface, making it uninhabitable for life as we know it. However, scientists say it is cool enough to host a substantial atmosphere. The planet is also close enough to Earth that scientists may soon be able to find out much more about its characteristics, from the composition of its atmosphere to the pattern of its winds -- and even the color of its sunsets. Berta-Thompson and his colleagues discovered the planet using the MEarth-South Observatory, a Harvard University-led array of eight centimeter-wide robotic telescopes located in the mountains of Chile.

The array monitors small, nearby stars called M dwarfs, which are scattered all over the night sky. Scientists have determined that these kinds of stars are frequently orbited by planets, but haven't yet found Earth-sized exoplanets that are close enough to study in depth. Since early , the telescope array has been gathering data almost every night, taking measurements of starlight every 25 minutes in search of telltale dips in brightness that may indicate a planet passing in front of a star.