The suburbs are not for me. If you happily live in the suburbs and have a sense of community there, please don’t be offended, this isn’t about you personally. I’ve had my taste of suburban woes a few times in my adult life and I don’t care to do it again. This post isn’t to tear down that kind of life, but rather to extol the virtues of city living.
Recently I was telling someone how I was feeling frustrated at our lack of a back yard. My main complaint stemmed from the fact that I can’t just open the back door and yell, “Go!” We do have a park right next to our building so it’s kind of like our back yard. The only difference is that I have to go out there too. Let me state this again so you understand my frustration: in order for my kids to play outside (which we usually do one or two times a day) I have to leave behind everything I’m doing to go sit in a park.
However, I’ve just started to realize that this is not a bad thing after all. The thing about living in a city is that there’s a lot of sharing. In previous homes, I have driven around for 10 minutes before parking 1/4 mile away from our building. Shared parking is not my favorite. If you live in the city there is no room for a private pool, so you share with the neighborhood at the community pool. We don’t have a backyard for a jungle gym, so we share with the neighborhood, and the homeless.
Sharing is a good thing even when it doesn’t feel like it. When my boys get bullied on the playground, I have a teaching opportunity. When we are feeling threatened by an inebriated napper on the park bench, it gives me an opportunity to get to know our neighborhood police a little better. And when I have to give up my time so that my boys can play outside it gives me an opportunity to meet other moms and dads doing the same.
I have friends from around the neighborhood that I would never have met had we not been at the park together. And if I see a new friend several times a week we are forced to go beyond preliminary conversation, how are you? What about the weather? How old are your kids? Thus, community is born. My kids see a world beyond themselves and I can build relationships outside of my normal circle. What a beautiful thing!
What do you do to build community in your neighborhood?