RE: Coho Community - when no Coho "Community"?
From: Rob Sandelin (Floriferousmsn.com)
Date: Sun, 6 Jul 1997 11:26:47 -0500
This is reprinted from the NICA newsletter, Community Resources, # 12

Margaret was in her late 50's and lived alone. She had lived in a  regular 
suburban neighborhood for several years. She realized that she did not know 
any of the folks who lived on her block anymore. Many of the people she used 
to wave to and share small talk with in front of the sidewalk had been 
replaced by newcomers who did not seem to have the time for such things. Tired 
of feeling isolated, she put together a small flier announcing a neighborhood 
block party and personally went around door to door handed them out to all the 
neighbors on her block. The appointed Saturday arrived and many of her 
neighbors came over. In the many ensuing conversations that day, Margaret 
realized that her neighbors felt as isolated as she did. Several of the 
neighbors organized a regular monthly potluck, rotating the location from 
house to house, several who were parents began informal childcare swaps, and 
some of the neighbors started a tool share list of tools they would loan out. 
People began helping each other, and a couple of neighborhood improvement 
projects were enthusiastically started and maintained, included a garden plot 
in the median of their street, a project they had to fight city hall to 
accomplish.  Property values actually rose because of the "neighborhood 
spirit" and new folks who moved in enthusistically joined in the activities. 
Now Margaret knows all her neighbors, some of whom even helped her paint her 
house one summer.

I would call Margaret a Community Catalyst. Her simple action of organizing a 
neighborhood party creater a greater senses of community in her neighborhood. 
All it took was a couple hours of her time and she changed the world she lived 
in for the better. Many people complain about the lack of community in their 
lives, and how they think they want to join a community if only one would get 
started where they live, or didn't have so many meetings or other obligations. 
Very few of these folks are ready to actually live in a community, they just 
want more social connections with the neighbors.  Now maybe just holding a 
block party won't change your life and neighborhood the it did Margaret's, 
maybe it will take more effort to reach out and find people. Even so, somebody 
has to get the ball rolling. So what are your waiting for?

This is a true story, I hear similiar stories about once a month. Like the old 
retired guy who was always afraid of the teenagers, then he opened up his 
garage shop one day a month and worked with the kids making skateboards; about 
the bird lady, who set up bird watching walks just along the street and has 
build that into a huge neighborhood festival of spring celebration. I could go 
on and on, as the point person for NICA I hear this stuff at many turns. All 
it takes is ONE person to make something happen. to coin a phrase:

Just do it.

Rob Sandelin
Northwest Intentional Communities Association
Reprinted from Community Resources #12

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