Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

All lives are connected, like waves in the ocean, each affecting the other. - Mitch Albom

Who hasn’t run into a complete stranger and soon discovered they know somebody in common?

Not a day goes by I don’t hear the phrase “It’s such a small world!” If these words don’t tumble out of my mouth or the person I’m talking to, I hear them exclaimed from people around me.

The “small world” phenomenon is the notion that everyone on the planet is bound to each other by a link of six people, thus “six degrees of separation.”

Six Degree of Separation began in 1990 as a play based on a true story. A young man arrives at a wealthy couple’s Manhattan condo claiming to be friends of their children and the son of Sidney Poitier. Three years later, the play was made into a movie starring Will Smith as the young man.

I remember enjoying the movie, and decided to revisit it. After renting it from Gaslamp Video and Tan, I spent an enjoyable evening wrapped up in the intricate plot.

The movie inspired three college students sitting around with their favorite beverage to create a popular college party game, the “Kevin Bacon Factor.” They discovered all actors could be connected to Kevin Bacon through movies or television programs they appeared in together. They hypothesized that Kevin Bacon was the center of the universe, at least when it came to connecting actors.

Major universities have taken the phenomenon a step farther with research into calculating degrees of separation between everything on the planet. Scholars continue to study how contact catalyzes the spread of many phenomena, from tracking contagious diseases in humans, to viruses on computers, to power grid failures.

If every Downtowner introduced a friend to neighbor, how long would it take before everyone living and working Downtown knew each other?

I reflect...How many degrees separate me from you?

For fun I calculated my Kevin Bacon Factor. The key is to find the right people to make the connection. Phyllis Schwartz (President of NBC 7/39) is a friend of mine. She knows Jay Leno. Jay Leno recently interviewed Kevin Bacon. So, there are three degrees of separation between Kevin Bacon and me.

Anyone who knows Phyllis also has a factor of three degrees. Anyone who knows me has a factor of four degrees.

If you know Donna Lutz, President of doma by CityMark, Eileen Tansey, President of Treo@Kettner, Donna Corbin, President of Pacific Terrace, John DiFilippo, President of 235 on Market, Bruce Bachman, President of Renaissance, Mitch Cushman, President of Columbia Place, or John Crofton, President of The Brickyard, you are five degrees from Kevin Bacon.

We can also take this to world leaders. Jay Leno has interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Bush, and Colin Powell. Between the four of them, I’m 4 degrees from world leaders.

Who will you find you’re connected to? Let’s begin by introducing each other today so our community is separated by only 1 degree. - November 2, 2003

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