Comments On Article: The Diaries Of Rose And Emma February 16 - 22, 1932 & 1933
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It's too bad this forum isn't a real-world neighborhood - then we could all call round for visits, and help each other out with chores, and stuff :) Wouldn't that be awesome?
I don't know what it's like where the rest of you live, but where I live there's not really enough "community" anymore for "community building," and certainly no neighbors left who are living a lifestyle anything like mine. Most of the small family farms have been sold to commercial agriculture, and the houses either torn down or sold off separately to people who commute to work (and play) in the nearest city, and aren't the least bit interested in actually getting to know the area. Turnover with these newcomers is also so fast that I've stopped even trying to meet new neighbors - only one of my current neighbors has been here for over two years, and most for under one year, which seems to be about the average stay. When I was growing up, it was the exact opposite - only one house seemed to have rapid turnover, and the rest had families who had lived there for generations.
I don't like the change, but I think it's just the way things are in the modern world. I have penpals, and online friends, and online forums (including, now, this one) for talking about simple lifestyle type stuff with like-minded individuals, but no one to share such interests with in person.
I get the feeling that we were all born about a hundred years too late....that is what people have told me all my life..wishing for the good Ole years even before I was born years...late 1800's early 1900's...maybe because people romanticize that period so much...I am SURE it was rough..WWII also..they have romanticized it as long as I can remember...I think I just want a time before computers,stupid TV shows,commuting for hours , cell phones...
A time when people talked..visited..wrote letters..when was the last letter anyone remembers WRITING a letter????
I live in the university district in my town, so between students and professors there is always a lot of movement in and out. I'm also on the northwest coast in a climate refuge area, so we have had a HUGE influx of new people over the last few years fleeing droughts (and wildfires) in California and the south. Many don't stay long because they learn the reason we don't have drought issues is because it is rainy and dark 9 months out of the year, and we still get the smoke from all the wildfires even if we don't tend to have them in our specific area.
Still, I keep trying. If I want a better world with a strong community, then it's my responsibility to do the leg work! I steward our local Buy Nothing Project group and arrange community events like sewing and crafting groups using our library's free community room. I greet my neighbors, share garden produce, and try to chat as much as possible. The housing crisis here is bringing in more long term neighbors simply because no one can afford to move out of the cheaper student district anymore. I hate that hard times is bringing us together, but I refuse to not see the sunny side -- which is the chance to rebuild the community we have lost!
I'm in my 40s, so not young nor old yet. It's been a lot of work trying to single handedly build up community around me, but this winter I noticed I'm no longer going at it alone! The most wonderful thing is that the young people feel the need for community as well! The last few years more and more of the students are joining in. We now have an old fashioned big band hop downtown once a month (free with suggested donation), and a group of young people have formed a mutual aid society that helps with everything from getting food to those in need to running free clinics to learn how to darn socks or mend electronics.
My goal this summer is to set up a "Really Free Market." I read about one in Europe and fell in love with the idea. I hope to make it a weekly event where all are welcome. You can come to give away extras you have, kind of like a free yard sale or clothing swap. I also want to invite community members to offer skills, everything from fun stuff like sing-alongs, picnics, and games to useful things like the mending clinics mentioned above. When I read the old newspapers here, up until the early 1960s there was a public community picnic almost every weekend from spring through fall, hosted by different civic groups every week. My big pie-in-the-sky dream is to build up the Really Free Market to fill the hole in the community left behind when the picnics stops.
I agree that community seems to be a missing component to a lot of neighborhoods. I live in Southern California and living an old fashioned lifestyle is definitely something you don’t see often or at all. Maybe through Grandma Donna’s blog we could start a pen pal neighborhood:) I know it wouldn’t be the same as having a neighbor to have tea with or talk over the fence while hanging laundry. But maybe it would be a just enough to make us feel like we were not alone in living an old fashioned life. Reading what everyone writes makes me wish we all could be neighbors. It is nice to know there are others that enjoy the same simple joys:
Grandma Donna wrote, some very good conversation going on here. I think we all need to do our part to change things because if we do not nobody is going to. We have young adults that have never lived in a time where people visited or were neighborly to one another. Stepping out is just dropping off a plate of cookies or a loaf of homemade bread to a neighbor. Just a gesture of kindness. I realize we have to be careful in some neighborhoods and those situations would need more of what Jenny Wren was talking about, doing the leg work to starting groups. We cannot keep waiting because it will not happen by itself.
Sheri R , send me an email if you have any thoughts about the pen pal room or a way to do a real pen pal. Grandma Donna
I think that is a nice idea: a little pen pal neighborhood. I live in Northern California and it for the most part is the same as you say it is where you are. A lot of people do not know their neighbors, and it is almost suspect in some areas. I have a couple of funny stories about when I tried to be neighborly; but I am not giving up; I think it is important to bring these ways back.
When I moved into my neighborhood I thought I would bring eggs to some of my neighbors. I had several chickens at the time and an over abundance of eggs. After knocking on the door my neighbor opened the door about six inches peering out at me. I told her I lived across the street and wanted to share some of my eggs with her. I thought for sure a conversation would be started but she just wanted me gone. I handed her the eggs through the very small space she had opened the door, she said thanks and shut the door. That was 11 years ago and she still doesn’t wave or talk to me. I just don’t understand. But like you I won’t give up, I still continue to smile and wave and hope one day things might change .
Wow! I would have thought she would have at least been a bit courteous. A similar thing happened to me: I brought some shortbread over to a new neighbor who was not at home. There was someone else there to do some work, but she said she would tell the new neighbor I had stopped by. It was two and one half weeks later that I finally went over to introduce myself. I got a lecture about vegan eating and that the shortbread had to go to everyone else in the office because it was not suitable for her. That was understandable, but a simple thank you would have sufficed. Like you, I got a cold shoulder at almost every turn when outside or passing by. At least I tried, is all I can say.
No, not at all. I have nothing against vegan, paleo, or religious diets or any other type that people may keep. It is their choice, after all. But I do think that good manners would have been demonstrated by a prompt thank you. To wait two and one half weeks for even an acknowledgment was a bit much, in my opinion. Also it was, I think, the general coldness toward me that was a bit disturbing. I did not expect her to call the daily paper and announce it; but I think a bit of friendliness would have been appropriate. Still, one should not expect something from someone at any time. I was out of place, I guess.
I love your idea about a pen pal neighborhood. I was paired with a pen pal though my bank back in Iowa and we have been writing....gasp.....actual LETTERS back and forth for the past year. She is such a blessing in my life and it is amazing how much we have in common despite being 20 years apart in age.
That said, hearing about the frustrations of other folks, I feel very blessed. I'm 57 and relatively newly retired, my husband and I having moved to eastern Tennessee a couple of years ago with the idea of living out our remaining years here. My 70+ year old neighbor next door pops over to get eggs from me every other week and we text about all sorts of things - waterglassing eggs; he shared his figgy (Christmas plum) pudding recipe he made for next Christmas; he sent me a children's book entitled Big Chickens that I then promptly took a picture of me reading to my chicks and texted to him; etc.... The nicest young couple live across the road in a little farmette and are awfully sweet, as well, bringing their tractor over to till my garden and moving dirt around for us on our acreage for no cost. They are both what we grew up calling "working fools" and we certainly don't seem to be able to help them out the way they do us, but they seem to appreciate finding a homemade plate of goodies on their doorstep when they get home from work from time to time. Then, just today, we received an invitation to come for a visit next Monday night by some folks renting the condo we sold a year or so ago (we met them through mutual aquaintences/friends at the Storytelling Guild this past Tuesday night). I feel oh so blessed to have all of these folks in my life and I wish the same for all of you!
I find that I am very different from my neighbors and even most of my friends, especially when it comes to baking and cooking. But as I've been going against the mainstream in one way or another my entire adult life, I'm pretty much used to it. My youngest has been bringing young adult friends over and they often join us for a meal, usually remarking on how different it is to eat food cooked and baked from scratch -- they are easily won over with a homemade dinner roll and now we have guests at the table several nights a week. Who knows, perhaps one of them will some day take up my way of doing things. I certainly wasn't raised like this at all! I grew eating highly processed foods and almost nothing made from scratch, ever. But I became a vegetarian as a young adult and had to learn how to cook to avoid various ingredients in packaged foods, and luckily I married a man who had some experience with eating fresh foods. When we stopped being vegetarian I learned to cook meats, and luckily for me one of my grandmothers was still alive and even though she too had mostly cooked from cans and jars, she did know how to cook meats and was able to help me learn.
Now that I'm in my 50s, I just accept myself for who I am and accept others for who they are -- I wouldn't have friends otherwise! My neighbors got quite friendly during the pandemic when everyone was so starved for human interaction, but since then people have mostly retreated back behind their closed doors.
One thing I envy in the diary readings is the interactions with family. I do wish our families were less dysfunctional and also were close enough geographically to make more frequent visits possible. We aren't terribly far from some family members and might manage monthly visits, but these days there seems to be a focus on doing so many social and recreational activities that family visits get pushed out of the way. But my goal for 2023 is to at least see my mother-in-law and sister-in-law more frequently (they live together).
We have fabulous neighbors. I don't know any that garden and can and such, but we all get out and walk our dogs and stop and talk. We have a lot of bbqs and community events like movie nights at the pool, 4th of July bike parades, etc. I don't know if it is because we are in the south, but have always had friendly neighbors that bring brownies when you move in and talk and wave when you pass. We were the kool- aid house where all the kids came. I always had food and they knew they were welcome. I had teens come when my kids weren't there and walk in my back door, get a snack, knowing they were at home.
My mother in law lived with us for 18 months. She would get an average of 3 calls a day from different friends. Some were people she hadn't seen in years, but they call about once a month to check on each other. She'd spend 30 minutes to an hour with each one getting all the details about their kids and grandkids. I never talk to anyone except my kids on the phone. Most friends communicate by texting. The art of communication on my MILs level has been lost.
I can relate to what some of you said about attempts at neighborliness being met with outright suspicion. Some of my neighbors wont even wave back if they're out mowing the yard or something when I walk past. To me, that's just minimal politeness - it would feel super awkward to pass a neighbor without acknowledging their presence in some way, so I continue to do so, even though I'm sure they think of me as "That weird lady who's always waving at us."
Regarding penpals, I already have a few who share various aspects of my interest in simple living, and it really is nice to have that slow paced, one on one communication.
I also participate in Postcrossing, which is great too. Even though the communication is random and one-time for the most part, it still feels very old-fashioned to be sending and receiving real postcards on a regular basis. At least I can talk about my homestead on outgoing cards:)
I think a penpal section on this forum would be cool too, but only if there was a way to PM each other directly, so we could share addresses with just the person we're agreeing to write to, without making them public. Another thing to consider is that writing a good letter can be quite time consuming. (Just putting that out there as a warning to anyone who isn't used to it - don't over-commit, or you'll end up letting your new penpals down!)
Jenny Wren - Wow, it sounds like you're doing great at community building! Good for you! I hope the Really Free Market works out - I've heard of them before and always loved the idea.
I love the pen pal idea! Sign me up!!! The only one that I write is my old neighbor in Oregon. We used to chat almost daily no matter the time of year. She is 73 and her husband is 80 now. Definitely a big age difference since were 40 and 41, but it never stopped us and still doesn't. Our neighbors here are alright, but no one talks to each other. The ones across the street told me I'm not responsible because we don't eat plant based foods and I got caught having some spider webs on my outside lights when she was at my doorstep and the other ones we only know names. One next door is a widow and we were really close friends and then this year it's just been crickets.
When I was growing up we knew everyone on the block and they were our closest friends and to top it off we always knew where each other was and what was going on. We loved living in that neighborhood and the friendships we made. We live in the South too and for the most part people are very friendly, but the crowd that's my age is too busy working on their careers outside the home and could care less about gardening and cooking. Most of the time it's drive thru for their dinners which is so sad.
There's one kid in the neighborhood besides our son and back in 2017 when we moved in they had been playing outside just the regular basketball, etc and the kid mentioned that he'd kill his parents one day if he had a gun. Our son immediately came inside and we have never talked to that family again. Our neighbors all know about it too and I guess that's just how that family is. For a kid to say that though speaks volumes about what is actually going on in homes nowadays. It's truly heartbreaking what has happened with the family and how it's supposed to be. My husband and I always hope that we can be close with even just a couple of friends our age, but have learned the others are too busy for friends and would rather have recreational activities instead.
Speaking of which...I don't ever remember there being so many recreational activities and such a push for those things. Am I correct?
Grandma Donna has my permission to share my mailing address with anyone that she thinks would be a great pen pal. :)
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