Friday, October 17, 2014

A Lot of Heart

On Thursday night, while husband is at school having a meeting of choir parents, I drop off teen at Peabody Chorus, then head to Second Chance with a craving for chili dogs (no onions). A woman dining alone is not a big deal these days...with an iPad...and 2nd Chance always feels like home.

Ping! Facebook Messenger--

Hi!! Anyone able to pick us up at the Dobbin Center? Car is dead :-(

I need to finish dinner at Second Chance but then I could?

That's great. We're gonna grab something to eat from Panera, so take your time!

My neighbors on the corner were stuck, sent out a call via Facebook to our little group of neighbors, and boom! problem solved.

I am deep down a shy person. I have really learned everything I know about this kind of neighborliness from my husband. He has been a great influence on my behavior. If it's the kind of thing Richard wouldn't hesitate to do, then I feel comfortable doing it, too. It truly is something you have to learn.

The good news is that you don't have to learn it as a child. It's never to late to learn to be a neighbor and we can learn from each other all the time. Even if you are shy. Even if you are coming late to the game.

So, in the spirit of a #summerofneighbors that can last all year long, I have thrown myself into the new "Oakland Mills is Awesome" Facebook page. We share highlights, triumphs, good ideas. This tutorial on how to say hi to someone on the street made me smile. After all,

So when a wonderful neighbor shared this piece, it all came together in my mind.

What is the village effect?

The village effect is a metaphor for the social contacts we all need as humans in order to thrive. These are the strong social ties that develop naturally in a village, where by necessity you cross paths with each other repeatedly every day. When you think of most villages, there is a central square, a public area where everyone converges or passes by going to the grocer or the post office or city hall or to sit at a cafe.

What we need to survive, and to thrive, are not fewer poor people, not higher test scores, not luxury condos. Human interaction, human connection, and empathy towards our fellow-beings are at the core of what we need.

It can start with something as simple as a wave on the street, or a ride home to a stranded neighbor. Yet it is the most signigicant transformation--dare I say re-invention?--that will make a difference in how we, and our neighbors, will live.

"It's a vibrant and diverse community, with a lot of heart," said a parent at the Oakland Mills Cultural Arts Festival. I couldn't agree more.



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