Hi neighbors! Last night, I was re-watching one of my favorite classic movies, The Quiet Man (with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara), and something struck me that I hadn’t really thought about before. The movie portrays Catholics and Protestants getting along, which has not historically been the case. (BTW, contrary to what a lot of people think, the disagreements are not theological, but based on class struggles and the issue of nationalism). In the midst of the epic brawl scene, the predominantly Catholic village is rallied by their priest, Father Lonergan, to line the road to cheer for Protestant Reverend Playfair (who is hosting the Anglican Bishop who has the intention of closing the Protestant church for lack of attendance) to make it appear that Playfair’s church is much bigger than it actually is.
In a pretty humorous moment, the priest covers his Roman collar with a scarf, and exhorts his parishioners, “Now when the Reverend Mr. Playfair, good man that he is, comes down, I want ya’s all to cheer like Protestants…”
Sure, there were critics that said this would never happen, but there are always folk who will find the dark cloud around every silver lining. But I do think it is possible, in a small community, to overlook differences in the interest of survival and of the community itself. Four years ago, at Supervisor Miley’s campaign party on election night at the Carpenter’s Hall on Mattox, I remember looking around in the room in wonder at the diversity in age, ethnicity and religion.
I am beginning to have serious doubts as to whether everyone really should be entitled to an opinion, particularly on Facebook. When did people forget how to “agree to disagree”? Whatever happened to civility? While Googling for quotes, I ran across author named P.M. Forni, professor at Johns Hopkins University, who started something called the Civility Initiative. Civility, according to Wikipedia, is the action of working together productively to reach a common goal, and often with beneficent purposes. Some definitions conflate civility with politeness, which suggests disengaging with others so as not to offend (“roll over and play dead”…). […] In his call for restoring civility, Pastor Rick Warren said, “In America, we’ve got to learn how to disagree without demonizing each other.”
In one article, Forni quotes Yale law professor Stephen Carter, “Civility is the sum of the many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together.” It is a sacrifice, however, that we make for our own sake as well as others’. In another article, Forni says that when we engage in a civil and pleasant exchange with a friend, for instance, our bodies release neurochemicals such as oxytocin and serotonin that lower our stress levels, make us feel better and strengthen both our immune system and our bonds with that friend. The bottom line? The harmonious relationships that civility helps foster have a positive impact on our overall well-being […]. “Kindness,” he said, “is very good for the kind.”
So please, for your own sake, as well as for the sake of the rest of us, when having a discourse, keep it civil, be kind, get some happy neurochemicals. And cheer (like a Protestant, like the ones who drink beer in the cellar of Murphy’s Saloon, like a Raiderette, or however you want) for your neighbor.
Hi, neighbors. Glad we’re together again. (Mr. Rogers used to say that.) Yesterday morning, I literally had no idea what I was going to write about, but by evening, Divine Providence had intervened via two separate emails from past CCA presidents, Ruth Baratta and Ingrid Moller. First Ruth sends me a UCC devotional that references a book called The Art of Neighboring, then Ingrid forwards me an email from Christofer Aven of our BlightBusters subcommittee, in which this picture of this essay “FOOD FOR THOUGHT” that she had saw tacked to a phone pole on Western near Hampton, while she was, no doubt, walking a fur-baby.
Community Pride. It is not lost on me that this was posted on Western, near the railroad and BART tracks, a.k.a. the furniture graveyard. I think I disagree with the emphasis on personal rights. The people who discard their crap on the tracks are exercising their personal rights. I think the last line is getting more toward the truth. A community is made up of people and we must relate; no person is an island. To quote an author of The One Minute Manager: “Building relationships with our neighbors leads to better communities, better cities, and ultimately… a better world.” Sociologists and City Planners agree.
I think a good beginning is to just know your neighbors.
In The Art of Neighboring, the authors suggest picturing your home in the middle of a grid, surrounded by eight other homes like a tic-tac-toe board (see image). For how many of those homes, they ask, do you know the names of the people who live there? For how many do you know some basic information? How many do you know well?
Try it yourself. How did you score? The guy who wrote the devotional admitted to scoring only 2 out of 9 on names.
BTW, if you want to get to know some of your neighbors, we will be
having our first ever Cherryland Neighborhood National Night Out on Tuesday August 7th at Cherryland Park on Grove Way from 4:30pm-8pm. Plans include an Ice Cream Social, neighborhood watch info, and safety demonstrations. I have always wanted
to have a neighbor just like you, I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day…
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
My brain is a little fuzzy as I sit here and have my first cup of coffee for the month of June. Last night was a milestone meeting for the Eden MAC Ad-Hoc Committee of which I am Supervisor Miley’s ex-officio appointment, meaning I am there because of my current position as CCA President. Not that the meeting tired me out; I was tired when I got there, due to my massive spring-cleaning project. BTW, after my Waste Management bulky-waste pickup, I was stunned to find there was not the usual ground‑zero‑level mess left in the gutter by WM; then I realized that Downtown Streets Team must have come by and removed the residue. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Anyway, last night we completed deliberations for our recommendations that will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on what the EMAC will look like; these are highlights of our recommendations:
- The Leadership will be structured so that there are seven (7) members: 2representatives each from Ashland, Cherryland, and San Lorenzo; 1 at‑large member (preference given to Hayward Acres residents for this seat)
- Members would serve a four- year term and would be would be limited to three terms (12 years maximum cumulative)
- Some terms are staggered, with several appointees serving two‑year terms initially but eligible for reappointment to a four‑year term
- MAC members must be Eden area residents; individuals who operate a business in the Eden area but aren’t residents are not eligible to serve
- There will be a Chair (and a Vice-Chair), whose term will be maximum two consecutive years, but elections by the members will take place every year
- Serving MAC members may receive applications from prospective MAC members if one or more seats are vacant to keep an Active pool of applicants
- There would be an open application process with a Public Disclosure of applicants
- There would be 2 meetings a month, with option to add Special Meeting(s) based on workload
- One General Purpose and one Land Use meeting
- Other options, such as having youth member(s) and rotating locations, were discussed
Hope your summer is getting off to a great start and hope to see you at the Carriage House at Meek Estate at 6:30pm on June 12th!
April was an exceptional month. The capstone, naturally, was the April 12th groundbreaking ceremony for our long-awaited community center. Our spirits were soaring on this landmark occasion because the center will be a much-needed focal point for our civic, cultural, and recreational uses and it brings us one step closer to our origins as a close-knit community.
Until its completion in 2019, I am excited to meet at Cherryland Elementary School during the school year. Our first general meeting there on April 10th featured Rachel Osajima from the county Arts Commission presenting samples of the art for our new community center, producing a flurry of selfies from the youth attending. Also presenting was the delightful and informative Nelsy from Measure A – Alameda County Early Education and Child Care (please support this important measure: www.acchildcarecrisis.com). I felt it was a success despite light attendance due to the conflicting county presentation of hot-topic proposed plan to transfer the REACH center from the HCSA to ACSO.
Last week, I attended a couple of meetings that had to do with the “Eden Voice!” campaign where I learned a new term: “social capital” (a form of economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central; transactions are marked by reciprocity, trust, and cooperation; and market agents produce goods and services not mainly for themselves, but for a common good).
What is the common theme of all the above? Community.
In my researching “social capital”, I stumbled on some concepts, such as the difference between a community and communitas. A community is simply defined as a group of people living in an area; or with common interests. Communitas has the same Latin root meaning as community; but has been used by anthropologists to mean an intense community spirit, the feeling of great social equality, solidarity, and togetherness.
In my mind, the things I learned are tied together. I think of it this way: if we as a community have a common experience (such as the journey to make Cherryland a better place to live), it brings everyone onto an equal level (even if you are higher in position, you have been lower, and you know what that is). If you don’t think of yourself as more important than anyone else, that frees you up to putting the common good first. This opens the door for that reciprocity, trust, and cooperation; which takes community to the next level of that intense community spirit of Communitas, which is what I wish for you and for me.
And if you want further explanation of these topics, I urge you to get in touch with my favorite sociologist, Basil Sherlock, who I am sure would enjoy talking to you at length about it, because I am already out of my depth!