Monday, July 10, 2006


i love the body language between these two. they are constantly touching each other. their bond is so strong. i find such comfort in the faith that they will have each other. i think it is so important to have that. i believe that they will be able to look after each other in a way that i will never be able to.

i have just begun reading this book, after spotting it on Amanda's blog. it is a subject i am very interested in. growing up, kindness was stressed above all. to everything - our planet, the bugs, plants, animals, other people (of course) and to ourselves. it is the gift that i am trying to give the girls.

i am trying to show them how. though i find it difficult at times. the plants, bugs etc. i think i have down, but others. kindness to others. beyond just the basics. to really show that "we" are here to love and help each other.

i am not a terribly social person. but, i feel that our neighbors are a very important part of our lives. we share more than a street with them. so i am starting here. we see them everyday and i think we need to do more than just smile and wave before we exit our cars into the safety of our home. (this seems to be the practice in other los angeles neighborhoods i have lived in where everyone seems to have a gardener and never sets foot in their frontyard except to depart.) we know almost everyone on our street by name. we know when someone elderly has fallen and needs a friendly visit. we know when someone is heading off on holiday and needs an extra eye kept on things. we know when there is a new baby on the way. or when much loved foster children are being returned to their mother. we all try to be there for each other.

what is tough for me seems to come naturally for the girls. they love sitting on our front walk (i mourn the demise of the front porch in modern architecture and so envy angelique.) checking out who is coming and going. our family can be frequently spotted gathering at the end of someone's driveway (more often than not our own) gathering up more neighbors as they head out for evening walks and cool breezes. kids run up and down the sidewalk. moms, dad, grammas, grandpas share stories and advice. "where did you get your new windows?" "how can i get k to sleep through the night!?"

so on saturday we invited a bunch of them over for a swim and bbq. it started with one couple and their 5 month old daughter and a brother who was visitng from san diego. then grew to another couple (who brought the girls some really cool temporary tattoos from their quickly gaining momentum business) with a really cute dog, then another with a 3 year old. it was wonderful. the girls loved it. we had all met before but hadn't sat down all together. we decided we should try and do this more regularly. we joked of putting a gate in our back fence so the neighbors across our alley wouldn't have as far to walk. we spoke of organizing a block party for the fall. closing down our street for the day. or maybe a progressive dinner down the street. i would love to try one of these ideas. will let you know.

what do you do to build community?

oh and only two more sleeps 'til we are on vacation!!


Jen said...

This post really hits home with me. When I see my kids--5 and 1--playing happily together and hugging each other, my heart just swells. I'm so glad they have each other and hope they always will.

I've been really happy to find such friendly neighbors on our new-ish street, too--I'm choosing to believe that it means we're in exactly the right place.

We're also kicking around the idea for a block party, and I have a half-secret desire to plan a Halloween parade--maybe the Saturday before the big day--for the whole neighborhood so we can actually see all the little ones in their costumes.

molly said...

what a great post. just a few weeks ago, a blogging friend and I were talking about teaching our children is so important to me that they learn to have compassion for each other, for their family, for people of ALL ages, for creation...I'm trying hard to make it part of our vocabulary and our actions. it sounds like you are making wonderful strides towards teaching this to your girls.

(and my husband and I often remark that the creation of attached garages was part of the demise of the american neighborhood--so easy to slip in and out without even being noticed!)

angelique said...

Tracy, it sounds like you have more than made up for porchlessness with true, organic neighborliness. And since you don't get the shut-in season of winter six months of the year, you can have those impromptu neighborhood gatherings year-round. I envy that! Here in the northeast, I sometimes feel like community is so much harder to maintain in the winter.

I have been thinking about organizing a block party for years. I've got to stop thinking and make it happen... maybe yours will inspire me.

Thanks for the link and have a splendid holiday!

lisa s said...

such great ideas here tracy... i BLOG for community.... :) it's funny b/c i'm not sure exactly how my "in the flesh" community came into existance. i do know that most of the people that i know and hang out with are aritsts or friends of artists.

i love that you are getting along with your neighbors and trying to teach your girls about caring [and sharing]. it's such a lovely and important sentiment....

hannah said...

yes, yes, yes. first i am loving the picture of your two bugs! i am so looking forward to when collette and arlo reach this stage. how far apart are they in age? or should i say how close?

second, we have a porch and we use it year round. even if the weather doesnt really allow for it, we still like to wrap up in down comforters and breath in the chill winter air. ah. i will be sad to leave our porch and friendly street.

and third, kindness! oh my, how i try to teach that. of course examples are best, and i need to work on it more myself. thank you for the book link.

Shari said...

such a lovely lovely post tracy.

we love our front porch and (gasp) are about to move to a house without one as our rental was sold and we had to find something reasonable and quick. it is wonderful to spend time on a porch and be able to see others in your neighborhood.

i loved your ideas for building community. we seem to have the wave quickly and head for the door neighbors and i'm inspired to try out some of your ideas.
thank you! xo shari

madmommy said...

Brings back memories of my childhood, when we lived on a court that had several families with kids our age. Everyone's yard belonged to everyone else, and kids ran amuck!
Now I live in a house with a porch, but we're on the outskirts of town, so we only know our neighbors next to us. We've shared cookouts and housework, but I'd love to live somewhere with more families.

Mama D said...

I haven't stopped by in a while. Things look great as usual. Your girls are as sweet as ever.

We are trying to get to know our neighbors better. There have definately been talks in the front yard. A new young couple is moving in next door. I hope they are friendly. I will miss the neighbors who've moved away...

Tracy said...

thanks everyone!

love the idea of a parade jen! thanks. i can remember doing this myself as a kid and so enjoying it...

compassion. that is it exactly molly. we are so fortunate that the girls go to a wonderful preschool where that is focused on. it is an intergenerational program where they spend part of the day with seniors who need care themselves. so lovely to watch.

hannah, they are almost 3 years apart. (33 months i guess...)
i used to worry that maybe they were to far apart but now i think it is all good...

oh for the return of the porch and the demise of the attached garage!!

Marissa Noe said...

I hate living in an apartment where people come and go so often... I would love to get to know my neighbors better. This is one reason why I can't wait to move into a house! When I was living with my parents right before I got married, the neighbor on one side of us didn't really want a 'relationship' with any family on the street. But on the other side, the neighbors dropped by when I was planning my wedding to see if they could help. (I didn't even know they knew!) I thought it was so sweet, and I told myself I wanted to be a neighbor like that someday. Thanks for the post :^)

canadianmum said...

That was such a lovely and timely post. Thank you. The street that runs behind us had a block party this past Sunday, the street was closed off for a few hours and the neighbours opened their doors and poured into the street. It was so nice, and in some way so un-Canadian. I feel here we are all so guarded and private, locked indoors for half the year or in such a rush to hurry off to our cars or wherevever in the dead of winter. Here we were playing, laughing, sharing a meal and a drink with those who live so close but we know so little about. It was a big wake up for alot of us, and there is a really great vibe in the neghbourhood right now. I am with you all the way on all you had written, and it was a much needed affirmation on a long and somewhat difficult parenting day.Wonderful insight and ideas, Thank you.