Finally. It's here. After living in Cinnamon Tree at Talbott Springs since June, 1999, it's happening. My #summerofneighbors.
Cinnamon Tree at Talbott Springs is a community of quadroplexes near the Oakland Mills Village Center. When they were initially built, they cost more than some of the single family homes because they came with central air conditioning. This was a desirable place to be.
During the housing bubble in the early 2000's, folks were anxious to get out and buy a bigger house before it was too late--we weren't seen as desirable anymore. The houses weren't bright and shiny anymore. They needed work. After the housing bubble burst and the economy tanked, these houses were extremely difficult to sell. Many owners resorted to renting them out. People came and went. Some were friendly, some were not. It just wasn't the kind of place where people hung out together, went trick or treating, or borrowed a cup of sugar. It was still a safe and lovely place to live. It just lacked spirit.
In the last few years, our little community has seen the beginnings of a turn-around as young professionals have begun to see these homes as appealing starter homes. Our own little corner of the neighborhood has blossomed with new neighbors and friends. Folks are outside doing work on their yards, helping eachother with bigger jobs, sharing a beer, asking advice.
Last night a bunch of us met at The Second Chance Saloon for a going-away dinner for Jesse, who is moving back home to South Carolina to begin a new career in law enforcement after finishing his military service. While we are all sorry to see him leave, and will miss his sense of humor and "let's do it" attititude, it's pretty clear to me that his time in our neighborhood was a time when we began to come together and really function like neighbors.
I hear that one of the major goals of the new Oakland Mills Village Board is to revitalize the Village Center by changing (read: removing) what is euphemistically referred to as "multi-family housing" near the Village Center. Hmm...quadroplexes...that's multi-family. That's us. Will getting rid of my neighborhood make Oakland Mills a better place?
This photograph contains two women who are life-long Columbians: the first on the left, and the last on the left. I wonder what they think about who should stay and who should go? And as for the rest of us, whether we have lived here seven years or seven minutes, it is our community, too.
And we're just beginning to get the hang of it.