Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The View From Here {My Neighborhood}

[neighborhood friends on International Day at school]

I read somewhere that your neighborhood really extends no further than a one or two mile radius. In my experience, I think it may be even smaller than that. 

I've lived in a variety of places, some with tree lined streets and cookie cutter houses and some with fields of cow piles that stretched behind the dirt road driveway, but of all the places I've lived it has been the small and compact apartment complexes that have bred the most vibrant and close knit communities. This phenomenon is something I accept and appreciate while at the same time wrinkle my nose at the fact that it seems to happen in a place where I also hear every footstep, argument, and choice of music my neighbors let loose. And of course, they experience the same inconvenience with  me.

Inconvenience and frustrations of close living quarters aside, there is much good that comes with repeatedly crossing the same paths and thresholds as your neighbors. In the age of suburbia  (which is something I have yet to experience or even be exposed to in China and am not sure if it even exists anywhere... it is city, or it is countryside), it is difficult if not impossible to have random, unplanned encounters with your friends. But this, I think, is one essential part of true community life. To be able to run up and borrow sugar or eggs, to ask for last minute help with a sick child or a need for a babysitter, to have the conversations about life and what is happening within our lives without being limited to a few planned hours a week or a month is the stuff that makes up much of our knowledge of each other.

I think of the moments at the bus stop when I happen to find out the morning burden of a friend, something she may never have shared had I not seen her until the following week, or the snippets of conversation that inform me of the happenings of extended family, of a child's struggles at school, of what is being made for dinner. I pass children, daily, playing outside and I hear their conversations. I come to know their personalities and the joys and difficulties in the way they relate to one another. 

It is in fact, my neighborhood. It happens in many places, all over the world, but my sense is that in some places it is happening less and less. There are limitations and drawbacks to this space in which we live as well. Not everything is as it should be, or even as I would want it to be. But there is much that is good. 

This week, as a part of a photography project called The View From Here, I am focusing on this week's theme, {My Neighborhood}. The challenge itself only requires one photo, but I am choosing to work through it for an entire week. Tomorrow, as a part of {book}worm wednesday, I will be doing a book giveaway, and it has a neighborly theme as well. Weather and energy permitting, there will be more to come on the people and places that make up this place I call {My Neighborhood}. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this post ... probably because I can really relate!
    Great shots!
    Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,