“When strangers start acting like neighbors… communities are reinvigorated.” Ralph Nader
I can barely remember where I park my car these days, but I can remember our neighbors on Waa Street in Honolulu from my childhood. The Elliots next door. Up from them the Rhodes family, then the Bensons and the Franklins. Across the street the Cravens and Ikenagas and along the alley, the Pangs and the Chings. There was also that neighbor we didn’t get along with back behind our house. Over the years, as I’ve moved from house to house, I’ve been blessed by wonderful neighbors. Parents and children, Mary who brings us Irish soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day, those we joined for parties and progressive dinners , those who would feed you when you dropped by at dinnnertime, those who would watch your dog when you went out of town. And, of course, those who lent you a hand or a cup of sugar. I’m grateful for all of them.
If there was one light in the darkness of Coronavirus, it allowed us to know our neighbors better. With all of us in our bubbles we came out of our houses as winter turned to spring. Front yards became places to meet and greet. Across the street are young homeowners who grow food in their front yard. They sent over a massive zucchini, and we sent back zucchini bread. We have a couple of Wide Spread Panic junkies, Olive is 83 and has cognitive issues and is showing us the challenges of aging, We’re watching Sam grow up, and Jim is the neighborhood dad. Always helping with something and looking after the folks on the street. And then there are the dogs, Lila and Hatfield, Annie and Izzy. Our dogs are neighbors too. In fact, these days it seems we get to know our neighbors through our dogs rather than our children.
When I count my blessings this Thanksgiving, I will be grateful for my neighbors. A couple of weeks ago we were invited to Jim and Hazel’s home for a graduation celebration. Their granddaughter had completed her college and became a medical assistant. They made a cupcake tree to celebrate her accomplishment. Their multi-generational Hispanic family was bursting with pride. Relatives came from as far as Pueblo to honor Sammantha and I couldn’t help but wish I had a large extended family within a stone’s throw. The love for family, friends and neighbors was palpable and inspiring. It reminded me of being back in Hawaii as families gathered in the parks for baby luaus when children turned one. It put me in a festive and nostalgic mood and made me want to pay it forward. I felt so fortunate to be their neighbor.
Which brings me to the quote at the top of the page and the purpose for this article. I wonder what our community (or even our country) would be like if we approached one another as neighbors. Not right or left, vaxed or unvaxed, White or Black or Brown, but as neighbors. Someone you would help and have over. Someone you treat respectfully. For over two years Bucket List Community Café has been an online home for building community and helping us feel less like strangers and more like neighbors. We are your home for information, inspiration and interaction and we are working to build community throughout North Denver. Whether one lives in Sunnyside, or Globeville or North Park Hill or Whittier or Highland or Montbello. Whether we have homes or are homeless. We are all neighbors.
Bucket List Community Café is community inspired, and community supported by our neighbors. Starting on 11/30 and going through 12/31 we will be fundraising. Colorado Media Project will match your contributions dollar for dollar up to $5000 and Bucket List Community Café will grow and be able to better serve North Denver. We are so grateful to you, our neighbors, for supporting community journalism.