What makes a neighborhood?
By Sylvie Legere
July 3, 2019
This 4th of July I celebrated my 25th year in the US. I came here as a grad student hailing from the North with a Quebec accent that somehow I have not lost. Every year, I love riding my bike through the closed streets for block parties, seeing the chairs lined up on the lawns the night before for a parade, and making plans to meet at the best spot to watch fireworks. Every year, I am grateful to belong to a community that welcomed me warmly.
My team and I have been busy planning to welcome you to The 4th Policy Circle’s Annual Summit around Living and Leading in a Connected World. We are building a program that explores topics such as data privacy, the future of neighborhoods and civic engagement.
In planning the summit program on the future of neighborhoods, it dawned on me that before coming to the US, I was not familiar with block parties, ice cream socials, pot lucks, and neighborhood associations. Have you noticed that all of those activities are led very often by women? How do we do it? We are women who work, care for families, train pets, entertain friends, volunteer at church, at school, at charities, we beautify our surroundings, and plan neighborhood gatherings.
We take communities for granted, but community is what brings out the best in humans. Community is the real safeguard against homelessness, addiction, abject poverty and suffering. What we also forget is that American communities are not created by governments as part of a major plan. It is each of our individual actions that stitches the fabric of the communities that we like to live in. The local coffee shop that we support, the flowers that we plant, the good mornings waved to a passerby, the tools we lend, the welcome cookie trays, are all small acts that build community. It’s the small things that we do and say that makes a difference. To follow that thought, my summer book is going to be “Alienated America: why some places thrive while others collapse” by Tim Carney. Perhaps you can give me a recommendation of a sunny novel to balance things out 😉 my cousin recommended Everybody Always, where Bob Goff discusses the path towards a liberated existence is found in loving people, even the difficult ones, without distinction and without limits… what’s yours?)
May the spirit of the Fourth of July continue to be with each of you, especially American women who do it all and make the United States what it is: a quilt of communities in which individuals can create, and thrive to achieve their God-given potential.