I’ve briefly mentioned Mark Lakeman‘s City Repair group in a previous post. Well, I was lucky enough to catch the fact that he was in Southern California for his Community Building speaking tour. One of the days was in Topanga, in fact a stone’s throw away from my place.
What can I say, Mark struck a cord within all of us there. The premise of his talk illustrates how the Roman grid was implemented in the United States with very few places for the community to gather and co-mingle. This creates isolated people and lack of care for your fellow citizens and community, sound familiar?
How do we change this and who cares? Well, I’ve been attempting to “create”, or, practice community building for a while. During Mark’s talk, I had an epiphany, better described as that “duh” moment. The realization was that without neighborhood involvement, you can’t have community. Something became apparent very fast. We were all digging what was being said and were getting excited about starting something. One of the takeaways from the meeting was that planning gets old. Better to do something, anything, no matter how small and build steam from there.
Examples? Well, why not? You could put a little free library on your street. Pick fruits form your tree, the one that ends up covering the ground with rotten fruit, and give them to neighbors. How about yarn-bombing the streets? The sky is the limit!
The very next day, still high on building community, I met up with Mark and some friends to plan out a community garden and recreational space. It was a magical experience, creating the plan in a controlled (by Mark) brain storm.
Now back at home we are starting a collaborative effort to reclaim our commons and build stronger community bonds. Lots of small, and large, projects coming up. What would you be willing to do for a closer relationship with your community?