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Praise for Vibrant Neighborhoods

Posted on June 5, 2008 by
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While this blog generally focuses on intentional communities, we also try to promote creating community in whatever place you happen to live. These two articles caught our attention, as the extol the virtues of their authors neighborhoods and the sense of community they enjoy there.

Ruth Ann Smalley writes in the Schenectady, NY Daily Gazette about her neighborhood:

I came home one day just in time to catch my neighbor planting flowers in my front garden. I had admired several of his plants, and asked him if they would do well in shade and among tenacious tree roots. Little did I know he’d be so obliging!

We chose our neighborhood because of its reputation for being an old-fashioned neighborhood, where kids run in and out of each other’s houses. Since we’ve been here, we’ve been to ice cream socials, a children’s talent show, and all kinds of seasonal celebrations. One family hosts an annual August “Kid Wash,” where children in swimsuits soap up, and enjoy being sprayed by adults with garden hoses.

On a more serious note, last year 10 of us met for nine months to discuss sustainability issues, using a course packet from the Northwest Earth Institute.  As a result, we started a neighborhood vegetable garden. A book club formed this year, as well as a “band” of about eight, who gather to play guitar, ukulele, hammered dulcimer, fiddle and flute.

Patricia Mikkelson writes on the neighborhood survival blog:

I feel so grateful for my Brown Farm Neighborhood. It has taken me a decade to appreciate this place. I have tried to move so many times it is not funny. I have wanted it to be something it might never be…an intentional community set up as a land trust. And, it is possible that some day it might happen. But for now, I bask in the glow of my wonderful neighborhood with all it’s imperfections and loveliness.

Let me give you an example of a few days in the life of my neighborhood, which is rich with opportunities to build a sense of community every day. A few days ago I came home to a note on my door from Alex, my next door neighbor. Alex is the daughter of people I used to know when we lived in Chimes 33 years ago. She offered to give me some plants if I wanted them. We got together the next day and I gratefully accepted the tomato, pepper and broccoli plants which she carefully planted from seed, varieties which were unique-ones that she found to be most successful. Wow! What a gift.

I went over to Martha and Josh Brown family house to see if I could get my weekly ration of left over food. We have an agreement that Martha cleans out her refrigerator of things that might go to waste otherwise, and I come up with all kinds of little treats that I normally wouldn’t use.

It has taken me a decade to learn to appreciate my neighborhood instead of focusing on the negative. The more that I appreciate the goodness of my neighborhood, the more good it becomes! At times, when I feel dissatisfied with my relationships with my neighbors, instead of complaining to others as I have in the past, I pray for them, appreciate the good things they do, and just remind myself that we all have needs we are trying to get met. I pray that all of our needs can get met, and that the barriers we have to love each other unconditionally will dissolve.

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