Saturday, November 21, 2009


22. How many people live next door to you? What are their names?

I think suburbs get a bad rap in a lot of enviro-media. Yes, they sprawl, and yes, they are sometimes cookie cutter, but a little decent planning can overcome some of these problems. Our neighborhood was lucky to have a few thoughtful planners so that there is a sense of community, there is connectivity with the natural landscape, and there is a reasonable feeling of diversity in the architecture so that we don't feel like we live in factory housing.

We live on a cul-de-sac with six houses. We actually know everybody, sort of a rarity for some suburban neighborhoods perhaps. I feel like if I needed the proverbial cup of sugar, I could knock on any of their doors and vice versa. Let's see, theres Norm, a bachelor who usually lives at his girlfriends house; Zach, another young man who actually moved to Japan recently, so he has abandoned his house to foreclosure; Clint, another bachelor who travels on business a lot, so we rarely see him either. (What is it with the bachelors? Is this common?) Then there is a rental where Gaea, Louie and their son Aiden recently moved in, which is great since Aiden and Orion have become good friends. Then there is Hilda, Robert and their grandson Brylin, another pal of Orion's.

Of the other five households, I have the phone numbers of four of them. This became more important, I realized one day, when the Clint's house across the street had a blow-out in the plumbing while he was out of town and I didn't know how to contact him. We ended up just turning off his water main when we saw that water was leaking out from under the garage door. Since then, we decided it would be more neighborly to share phone numbers with one another for emergency purposes at least.

But our neighborhood is pretty friendly otherwise as well. The nearby park is a gathering place for all kinds of happenings. We have lots of trails and sidewalks, so there are always people out in the mornings running and walking their dogs. With a high school and elementary school within a mile of the hood, there are tons of kids, which also livens things up. On some mornings I can hear the marching band practicing off in the distance or the little league parents cheering for their teams.

So, on a scale of one to ten, I'd give our neighborhood a solid nine in the community feel department. The extra point is deducted for the Homeowner's Association which is occupied, ironically, by folks who are more into strict codes and regulations that decrease the friendliness of the hood. They don't like my "weeds" in the spring, so every year I get a "nasty-gram asking me to pull the weeds! I think everyone else actually appreciates my adding native wildflowers to the landscape!


Allan Stellar said...

Thom Hartmann had the same problem with a neighborhood association when he wanted to have his yard be more "natural". What he did was to put little plaques as identifiers next to all the flora. When the Association saw this, they got it and said "oh, you have an herb garden---that's okay".

You might try that...

Does you neighborhood have side walks? I can't remember from when we visited.

Katherine Darrow said...

We do have sidewalks on every street! It's quite amazing really. I think I'll try the interpretive sign method in the spring. Thanks for the great idea!