I have theories that are growing in size from small notions to fodder for a grassroots movement. There’s been major upheaval in our backyard as a garage is being installed, so I’ve been focusing my gardening energies to the front. As I’ve been investing time there, instead of hiding in the back protected by a 6ft high fence, I’ve become a convert to the front porch-sitting habits from ages past.
Its amazing how much I see when I’m out there: crazy custody fights, creepy old men walking cats on leashes, new neighbors out for a stroll, a couple who pulled their car over to refill their rum & cokes in the trunk and then drive away(I called the cops on that one), peddlers trying to sell their stolen goods, political surveyors, kids who’ve lost their way and the normal bunch of friendly folks getting fresh air or exercise. What a window into our world!
My Dad’s theory, quickly becoming my own, is that around the introduction of the t.v. neighborhoods changed. People closed in their open porches with glass, put up fences and shrunk into themselves in massive numbers. Unwittingly, we became a culture of window watchers, content on keeping our contact with the outside world to a minimum or limited to a glowing electronic box. Lost became the accountability of neighbors tending their yards or sitting on the porches keeping a pulse on the community and those around them. Kids stopped entertaining themselves, preferring blank stares universal to all media intakers(mind you, my own kids are displaying this very behavior as I type this). We are much more of a private and individualistic society now.
Lest I become over nostalgic about times gone by, I know it was far from perfect back then. Was it really safer? Hard to say. . .but in the end, when tend my garden out front, I feel connected not only to the creation around me, but also the place where we live. And I’d like to think my meager investment of free time spent beautifying our tiny plot of easement is helping build bridges of grace to passersby. . . as well as lowering hooligan activity, at least in the summer and during the day that is.
JOIN FORCES WITH SUPER NEIGHBOR! PREVENTING CRIME AND PLANTING FLOWERS FOR A BRIGHTER TOMORROW!!!
(will our easement look this good someday? gotta have dreams. thanks goes to Jim Handtmann for the garden above-actually its his neighbors’ that he designed and tends–this and his own front garden inspired the majority of his block to do the same, many more pictures are available on his website.)