The ever-changing population of an urban neighborhood blows my mind, every six months it seems to change. I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in a very stable neighborhood and the people I grew up with stayed the same, in my new neighborhood people come and go in intervals, we have a few homeowners who remain constant but they are outnumbered by the renters.
In my old neighborhood every yard was well kept and the borough was well maintained, I think a big part of this is the permanence of home ownership as opposed to rental. People that are only going to be spending a small amount of time in a neighborhood don’t want to invest time or energy in making it look nice because they don’t “own” any of it, these are “small picture” thinkers that need to be awaken to the bigger picture.
I personally really enjoy gardening… I would need a 1000 acre farm to satisfy my appetite… I don’t have that now, and probably never will. The next best option I have is gardening vacant lots, they are wasted land and I find as long as I am willing to maintain the thing like it is a freaking botanical garden very few people mess with me.
When I first started urban farming/gardening I had absolutely no intention of involving a bunch of kids, they came out of the woodwork and had young blood energy they needed to burn off… I just gave them an outlet to vent. When the kids were around me they knew they could be themselves and could speak freely, they didn’t have to hold anything back and they didn’t. I truly believe this was one of the reasons I had any success at all while building Whitney Avenue Urban Farm, they could be themselves.
Sometimes the group of boys that helped me on the urban farm would have better thing to do than hang out with me, I never took this the wrong way and i never gave them a hard time about this. Kids interests have the ability to change at a moments notice, this is just something you will have to learn to live with. Anytime a new friend got thrown into the mix I never knew what to expect, usually it made them to cool to hang out with me… but they always came back.
I have been writing a blog for a little over a year now and it is amazing how much has changed since I started, none of the kids in my neighborhood are the same… except Brandon… I still see Brandon from time to time due to him having a permanent and stable home and family, but his friends live further away and he is off being a kid. When he wants to come around he knows that he is always welcome, we will unconditionally accept him no matter what.
This past Summer has been one of big change as we now have a few empty apartments on our street, I am honestly both terrified and excited to see what we might get. On the one hand we could get another great group of people who had our neighborhood looking like a “front porch” neighborhood, or we could get a bunch of people who need awakened to the positive change that is going on around them.
Peace – chriscondello