It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Michael and I attended the monthly meeting of the West Davis Neighborhood Association last night at Carver Community Center. After a 4-minute stroll there, and stopping to say hello to a fellow community gardener along the way, we met with a representative of the city and about 15 or so of our new neighbors to discuss our neighborhood’s needs, wishes and problems (there’s that old needs vs wants cropping up again!) There was high praise for the local police, fire and parks and rec departments, but lots of criticisms of the zoning, planning and solid waste departments. The Association is considering applying for Historic Registry status, and members have started a social networking internet site called Next Door where neighbors must live within specified boundaries to belong to the network and then are kept abreast of ‘all things pertaining to our neighborhood’. Neighborhood activity like this is EXACTLY what I was looking for when we decided to buy this house and everyone was very inviting and nice. They’re planning a ‘walk through’ of a number of our members homes next month and will invite representatives from different Johnson City departments to come into our homes to see how beautiful and special they are, in hopes that the visibility will promote awareness of our neighborhood when it comes to city planning efforts. I have never worked with such a group, and I’m intrigued by it so far. I’ll keep you updated.

More neighbor news: Tomorrow night, Friday, we’ll be taking part in the monthly JC Bike Party. Michael and I are the only ‘seniors’ on this ride, and this month’s promises to be quite tame, not too long. We’ll meet at 5 PM at the Downtown Square parking lot and we’d sure love to see some gray hairs like ourselves come along, so we don’t feel like the old hippies! Riders leave at 5:30 and these young people truly know.how.to.have.fun. Their Facebook page simply says: “Building Community Through Bicycling!” This is all of us at last month’s Bike Party…

And last, but certainly not least, I have an old friend that is now a new neighbor, and she offered me her leftover shredded leaves that she’d had delivered last fall. She wanted to clear her driveway to make room for a new delivery coming before long. I offered her our old seed starting rack, and we’re both happy! I jumped in ‘Big Red’ (our 1987 red Chevy S-10 truck) and in no time at all had a truckload of  leaves that had broken down to a dark, rich compost. There were earthworms in it so big they looked like small snakes! It just so happens that our very plans for tomorrow were to begin tilling and amending the raised beds that were in the backyard when we moved here, but are in dire need of attention before fall planting. This load of composted leaves, mixed with manure, will fill the beds and no doubt grow some fabulous food! The lettuce, kale, cabbage, parsley, Swiss chard and Bok Choy I planted is all up and growing well, and will need to be transplanted soon to the beds, so this gift of black gold came just in time.

All this is just to say that urban living can be just as satisfying and sustainable as country living, depending on how it’s approached. This week alone, we’ve walked to the library, grocery store, to our plot in the community garden, to the neighborhood meeting last night, and to the Farmer’s Market. In the morning I plan to walk to the nearby garden store to buy some more fall veggie transplants. Walking instead of driving saves us gas and money, helps keep our weight down, and puts us into intimate contact with our neighborhood. I believe our Peak Oil futures will be based on localized living- Imported and shipped food, foreign cars and globalized businesses will be replaced with locally grown food, mass transit and bike lanes,and small locally owned businesses that will offer the goods and services that we need, rather than ‘Made in China’ crap. I like knowing we’re living in a place where we  know our neighbors, working with them when we need to, playing with them when we want to, and depending on one another when times are tough. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!


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