I understand. We are all busy. We have work, family, friends, some of us have kids… so when, and why, could you find time to contribute to your community? You know it’s important, but finding the time is hard. And if you were to find the time, why spend it on service? Hard labor, even?
Well, if there is one thing this place has taught me, it is that if you work with others towards a common goal, your relationship with those people will be strengthened more than you thought possible. So, with that, I cancelled my yoga class and headed out at 8:30 am on Saturday to paint for the third year in a row. The goal was refreshing our tired and dirty light posts. The benefit would be catching up with friends, and meeting new ones. Added incentive needed? Mimosas and donuts don’t hurt either.
We all gathered at “Base Camp,” each followed in tow by relevant supplies: carts, wheelbarrows, ladders, step stoops, brooms, brushes, paint brushes, “City approved” black paint, ice, OJ, sparkling wine. The essentials. Alex (a.k.a. “Ladder Boy”) brought out the hand held radios. Communication is important to encourage teamwork. “Strike Leader” (a.k.a. Jon) helped organize everything. Maps were provided. Instructions were given. Teams were formed.
- Pole Position Teams: Paint Light Posts
- Team 1: Cat Lady, Hawaii 5-0, and Scooby Doo
- Team 2: Cougar, Old Cougar, and Mer-lay. Biker Boy joined in after his ride.
- Team 3: Strike Leader, L-Dog, and S-man
- Tag Team: Spray paint signs
- Team 4: Ladder Boy, T-money, and Sniffles
The teams rolled out, maps and instructions in hand. We all crouched around the posts, cleaning, painting, inspecting, and then admiring. For 3 hours, we joked, sipped, munched, discussed the neighborhood history, upcoming events, people, plans, etc. The four teams communicated over the radios, less for supplies, more for fun.
Half way through the task, we ran across another volunteer crew, independent of ours: The Tree Huggers. They had organized themselves to at our neighborhood herb garden to spruce up the joint. The garden is large enough for a handful of benches to surround a large evergreen. For such a small space, it can grow an impressive amount of weeds. Half of them were on hands and knees, weeding and planting. The other half were raking, sweeping, and pruning. It appeared we weren’t the only ones interested in contributing and building that sense of community.
How to be Neighborly: The neighborhood that works together, stays together.
Whether you believe the goal was painting or pruning, weeding or cleaning, fun or building a sense of community, when we turned around, there were a row of shining black light posts behind us, a flowering garden at the corner, and a smiling group of friends around us. Mission accomplished.