On the cold and rainy night before the big ice storm, I was out late walking my dog. Almost all my neighbors had moved their cars to the top of their driveways, or on to the street so they could get out easily should the need arise during the storm.
Bonnie and I walked past a mini-van and I noticed the interior light was left on. This particular neighbor had a very long steep driveway that went down to the house. I knew this family had several small children, and I imagined one of them getting sick or injured and having to go to the emergency room and the battery in the van being dead. Cold and rainy as it was, we trekked down to the house. The three young ones answered the door and I explained about the light in their van. From another room the father came out with a big grin of gratitude and said, “Thank you, neighbor!” It made the cold and rainy walk with Bonnie much warmer.
I grew up in a neighborhood in Virginia where all the neighbors knew and took care of each other. The neighborhood where we raised our son was never quite like that, though we tried to make those kinds of connections. The ecology of community intrigues me. The relationships between the people who live side-by-side matter. We have an effect on each other and the world around us. The chemicals we use on our lawns, the debris we burn on burn days, the cleaning agents that go into the ground water and streams, the noisy machines we use (and when we use them!) all effect the ecosystem we share. We don’t talk about these things in my neighborhood. I think we could be a stronger community if we did.
What is the ecology of your neighborhood?