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Retrofitting my neighborhood; reading group for _Superbia!  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 1121
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
57
kids trees urban
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Dear Permies,
I've been less post-y on here for a while, mostly because it takes a lot of time for trees to grow and there's not a lot I can do there.  And I've been focused on trying to build more relationships instead.

This project is really permaculture too--people care, leveraging the resources at hand (people), encouraging localism and noticing of what is local vs. just blindly importing solutions from afar.  (not saying that there isn't a place for importing things from afar too, but it's of value to work with what is at hand mostly).

The book Superbia! is really excellent.  Totally commonsense, none of the strategies will surprise anyone, but it's also really radical and it's laid out in a way that makes the whole thing much more viable--manageable baby steps vs. drama, superficial leaps forward that end up reverting.  The first strategy is just having a neighborhood potluck.  Others are childcare pooling and a neighborhood newsletter.

It's been harder than I'd hoped to get people to actually come.  We've been having these brunches for over a year, and I've been inviting people in person (knock on their door, hand them a paper invitation or leave it in their mailbox) for the past six months.  This last thing boosted the response a lot.  It was scary to do it, I'm an introvert, but I felt strongly enough about it to be willing and it really wasn't so bad.  Most people weren't home, of htose who answered everyone was friendly once they recognized Iwasn't there for party politics or selling something or religion.  I love that this is about our neighborhood, not about an agenda.  Our being, not our doing only.

But I would love more support.  I've tried to get together reading groups for Superbia here in Boston, no dice so far.

Anyone want to do that over the internet? or just post your experiences here?

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1121
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
57
kids trees urban
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One wonderful thing that came about was stumbling on a fish pond about 300' from my house!!!  I had never known there was a pond under this apartment complex, but it is a storm runoff pond with koi and crawfish, and the whole community is involved in adopting the fish and helping to clean and set up the pond in the spring and fall.  It may not be the most ecologically wonderful thing (it's in shade, so they feed the fish instead of plants doing that job) but it's on the spectrum of a transitional project that brings the community closer.  They have cookouts and everything.  I never knew this was there.

I learned about it because I was walking ou there with my girlfriend one afternoon, whether you want to call that cosmic orchestration or random occurrence.  It was good to take the time to talk to the people who were the two creators of it who were there that day emptying the pond and having the fish crawl down to geothermal winter depths (it's an 8 foot deep pond!)

Other ideas:
* use Google Maps to map out what's within a five minute walk from your house.  It may surprise you!
* are there those little free libraries in your neighborhood?  those are people who want to help you, and may already know their neighbors! talk to them first, ask them to help!  (wish I'd figured this out 8 months ago).  we'll see if they come through.
* keeping party politics out of it--pretend it's Thanksgiving with the family--is what i've assumed.  Probably everyone in my neighborhood is on the same side, pretty much, but the guy who's got a "support our troops" ribbon on his vehicle hasn't come yet and I'm pretty sure he assumes he won't really be welcome.  He is.  Everyone is welcome at the neighborhood brunch.  We DON'T have to agree on everything, we have to get to know one another and respect one another and find sustainable solutions that work for all of us.
* the Altantic Monthly had a great article a while back, "Can America Rebuild Itself?" about this kind of thing, city repair/neighborhoods taking responsibility for rebuilding their culture, economy, quality of life.  It's a great article.
* in a neighborhood such as mine where there's already too much culture going on already (too much in the sense that people are torn in different directions and are business-holics more than focusing on quality, in my opinion, having more focus on the vision itself may be helpful.  Having an open mic, probably not so much.  The book was written in 2006 or something, so it's not up to date with influences such as Netflix, the Atlantic Monthly phenomenon, the galvanizing impact that dissatisfaction with national government has had on local politics, etc.  I don't see this as a replacement for the other things, by the way, but it's time is coming, and planting the seeds of neighbor connection now is a good idea.
* when parents of young children say "i'm too busy, I'd love to but I can't," I try to bring them over a dish so they can participate in that way.  One of the goals of this, as I see it, is villages supporting children, and indirectly by supporting the parents.  High-quality childhoods means more sane and balanced and powerful children who will create a better world.

A lot of the game is just breaking the ice.

I am not claiming any kind of great success with this, it's not my natural strength, but I have learned some things I think are of value.

Thanks!

 
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