Thursday, December 11, 2008

Building Community

I had a marvelous time at the holiday dinner. Nothing so remarkable about an event like that. It is, after all, the holidays. But, this one was unique, at least for this day and age. There were 50 or so of us at the tables. Laughing, enjoying fellowship, and talking up a storm. All ages. It was very festive.

The thing that makes this holiday party so special is that it was comprised of neighbors. All neighbors. More accurate, Friend-Neighbors. Not that everyone was at the dinner, but everyone was invited and a great many decided to share time with each other.

This neighborhood is only a few years old. And, it's remarkable that most of us who built here came with the notion of being more than just inhabitants of a house. What most of us were hoping to do is build community. I'd say we're well on our way.

The thing is, our goal of being friends as well as neighbors can be tricky in an intimate development like ours. There are only about 100 houses. The space between us is not that great. In fact, most of us live in what is fashionably referred to as Paired Villas. Don't we sound just too, too?

If you grew up in row homes as I did in Baltimore, you'd know there's an art to living in a tight environment and sharing space without over-stepping your bounds and becoming nebbie. The trick is to, as the Japanese say, "Not see." We all seem to have the knack of it here in Kingsbrooke. For the most part, we are neighbors who care but are not all up in your grill. It's really quite nice.

Not that all who live here want to share in the socialization. That's fine. Some people simply wave as they drive by. Some don't even go that far. We respect their privacy. They're always included but not pressured to participate. As one neighbor said, "I don't feel like I need to draw my curtains to have privacy. I like that my neighbors watch out for me, but I never feel as though I'm being watched." A pretty good description, I think.

When I was adjusting to life on my own, I got fretful thinking that if something happened to me, it could be days before anyone missed me or wondered where I was. It was a very bad feeling. I happened to share that with my mailman, Tom, when he stopped to deliver a package. He said, "Holly, you don't ever have to worry about that. I know everyone on my route. And, I know their patterns. For instance, I know that you get your mail out of the box every day. Some of my customers don't. So, if you went two days without getting your mail and you hadn't told me you were going away, you best believe I'd be knocking on this door to make sure things here were all right."

I can't begin to tell you how much relief that gave me. Just knowing that someone who was in the neighborhood regularly and aware of me was enough to give me courage to keep on moving on. Tom was never intrusive, but he was always attentive. I'll always be grateful for that. And, the attentive but not intrusive mind-set is the one I have adopted as a neighbor. I think most of us here feel the same.

If you don't live with us, I suppose there's nothing all that fascinating about this entry. Except that, in our rushed world where everyone seems to wish to remain anonymous and uninvolved, it is fascinating to live with diverse and interesting people who find joy in spending time with their neighbors. People who share the common bond of working to build community, helping each other and furthering the quality of our lives in the process.

Kingsbrooke Estates where houses become homes and neighbors become friends. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by and say hello. We'll be happy to meet you.

Namaste' Till Next Time,


chrisk said...

Love the article. I love the mix of people and the sense that there are people around if you want to chat and be social, but if you want some quiet time, it can found too.

Anonymous said...

I use to live in a neighborhood like the one you describe and how I long for that neighborhood again. It was the neighborhood that I grew up in, Glenside Park, in Carney, Baltimore County.
Funny, I live in the same neighborhood now, same house, same neighborhood and things have changed for the worse. I don't even know the names of the "new" neighborhood that live across the street. What a shame we live such busy lives that we don't even know. How sad.

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