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Of Baked Goods and Block Parties  RSS feed

 
D. Logan
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I grew up in the suburbs. Over twenty years of my life went by before I had anything resembling the more standard 'urban' living. I took a lot of things for granted, like having a big yard to play in, having a huge black walnut tree, a neighbor with two cherry trees and another with two apples. All around me were neighbors with resources, space and skills that I really didn't get to know about in most cases.



One neighbor in particular helped me one day when I was younger by letting me stay in their home and call my mother when I forgot to bring the key with me to school. It turned out they collected fossils, which was something I was really into at the time and it led to a friendship that lasted several years. We lost contact when they moved away, but it made a clear mark on me. Every other neighbor was like a distant island when I was growing up. I might know what they looked like or wave when they were out while I mowed the lawn, but for the most part we never interacted.

I think this is true of a lot of suburban communities. Everyone moves about their lives as though it was the city, avoiding one another as more than passing acquaintances. I could point to a lot of things as to why, but the lesson I learned by forgetting my key was that we often have things in common that we could never have guessed at a glance. I'd like to see a revival of older styles of suburbia. It happens in some communities already.



Block parties (just the block, not those impersonal things where half the town shows up), bringing baked items to new neighbors and getting to know them a little. Introducing them to some of our ideas and sincerely listening to some of theirs. We can't really pick our neighbors and might end up with some really rough characters, but we won't know for sure until we've tried to know who they are. Already there are a few posts on the site centered around making a neighborhood more than just a place where your house happens to be. They offer great ideas.

How often do you go visit with neighbors? Do you visit with them at all? Looking back, I wish that lesson had sunk in while I was still young. Maybe we could have had get-togethers. Perhaps the black walnut pie we ate could be joined by a cherry pie and an apple pie. So many communities lack any sense of being a community.



I can't say where this was going. It isn't quite a question, but it does sort of have one implied. Can we bring back traditions that used to bind us together with our neighbors? Can it even work for the average person in the modern mindset? I think it can work, but only if the neighbors are receptive I suppose.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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I totally agree with everything you are saying in this post! I always grew up way out of town so I never really experienced this neighborhood friendliness except when I went to my friends houses and they were always doing stuff with their neighbors and playing with the other neighbor kids and I loved that! It always made me wish I had neighbors as a kid. Now I am 22 and I have plenty of neighbors and I don't speak to any of them. NOT ANYMORE!
 
Miles Flansburg
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Some of this has to do with being an introvert or extrovert.
I am very introverted so it is hard for me to join in with parties. I really have to "force" myself to do that.

My Denver home is in a culdesac. We are the oldest folks , most of our neighbors are younger with children from newborn to teens.

They all have that in common so they are a support group for each other. This becomes a natural "block Party" as they are always meeting each other out in the culdesac.
In the summer they do cook outs and fireworks. Birthday parties are always a joint project. In the winter they shovel each others walks and the parties move in doors.

I notice there are other culdesacs in the subdivision that have the same parties.

So it is still alive in some places.
 
D. Logan
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Cassie Langstraat wrote:Now I am 22 and I have plenty of neighbors and I don't speak to any of them. NOT ANYMORE!


There is a story there. I may have read it already if you posted it on the forum, but there is a sea of postings every day and I don't recall it if so. If you did, mind a link? If not, may we ask what happened?

Miles Flansburg wrote:Some of this has to do with being an introvert or extrovert.
I am very introverted so it is hard for me to join in with parties. I really have to "force" myself to do that.


I feel your pain. I am introverted by nature as well and have to really struggle to do social things with more than one or two friends at a time. I don't think the average extrovert can understand how the group activities that energize them so much can have such a draining affect on introverts. Still, community isn't limited to block parties, that was just an example. I think just sharing a meal from time to time with neighbors is still something way beyond the average community these days.

I remember my maternal grandparents living on a farm and neighbors from ten to twenty miles away just coming by to say hello and share a meal with them. Contrasted to my living in the suburbs it was almost surreal. People ten feet away can't be bothered to just come by for a minute or two and say hello by contrast.

Miles Flansburg wrote:My Denver home is in a culdesac. We are the oldest folks , most of our neighbors are younger with children from newborn to teens.

They all have that in common so they are a support group for each other. This becomes a natural "block Party" as they are always meeting each other out in the culdesac.
In the summer they do cook outs and fireworks. Birthday parties are always a joint project. In the winter they shovel each others walks and the parties move in doors.

I notice there are other culdesacs in the subdivision that have the same parties.

So it is still alive in some places.


I am glad to year your neighborhood does have a sense of unity. Even if you aren't participating in most of it, it means people are watching out for one another there. Even without being involved much, I am sure they keep up on how you are doing at least in some way. The neighborhoods where people can be dead in a house for years and no one even notices unsettle me. One might as well be living on the moon in that sort of community for all the help anyone would be in an emergency. Not by cruelty, but just because they are all focused on their own lives too tightly.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Oh ya they check in on us and we see each other coming and going and We do have conversations. It is all good.
 
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