Monday, September 27, 2010

Editorializing about Kids and Community

La Casa Chica provides a good vantage point from which to make sense of efforts going on in the broader community, as relate to kids.  Click here to read what I had to say about the recent Children's Movement rally that took place here in Sarasota.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rebirth of the Beach Caravan

This summer, neighborkids discovered some of the special history of our Central-Cocoanut neighborhood and Newtown community.  They found out about the 1955 beach caravan, which was started and led by our neighbors, which ultimately resulted in Sarasota becoming a county with all beaches open to all people.  Click here to read an article that explains this special history.

This month, neighborkids have been busy creating their own version of the beach caravan.  They've spent hours and hours making signs and spreading the word throughout the neighborhood.  

When Mr. Ned and his family found out about it, they said they wanted to be a part too.  They offered to contribute their limousine for the day!  

Kids helped to get stuff ready for the big day...even some kids who did not actually go on the caravan!

And then it happened.


History reborn.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hanging Out as Neighbors

Kids went back to school last month, and less than a month later, it feels like getting back together here on the block is already long overdue!  On Friday, Dalisha and Dareeona asked if "the girls" could get together like we used to, which of course meant we needed to go pick up Holly, who now lives five  miles away from our block on 15th Street but will always be a Central-Cocoanut neighbor at heart.  Phone service was down, so we weren't able to call ahead.  Fortunately when we dropped by her house she was there and able to come over, so the four of us headed back to the block on 15th Street.  Can you tell by the level of silliness how excited the girls were to see each other again?

Back home in Central-Cocoanut, the girls got busy creating a celebration - baking pizza, making tea and lighting candles.  Then Dalisha said it was time for a toast.  She explained that "a toast is when we cheer each other after you get done saying something that you really want to say."  

So here's what everybody's toasts were tonight:

"A toast to the girls night!"
"Cheers for the Cheetah girls!"
"Happy to see Miss Allison!"
"Happy to see Holly, Dalisha, and Darry!"
"To a great school year for all of the Neighborhood Scavenger Hunters!"

A few days later, it was the boys who stopped by - Quay and others who dropped in to reconnect.  

Dropping by, hanging out, with no agenda, just to say hello -- this is what it means to be neighbors.  

Saturday, August 14, 2010

End-of-Summer Celebration

Today the Neighborhood Scavenger Hunters hosted another neighborhood party to mark the end of summer.  Beforehand, Amorie and Da'Sean made signs to post on the fence at the park and at Amorie's  house on Cocoanut Ave.

Next they dropped off signs with fellow neighborkids on Panama Dr. and Janie Poe Dr. to spread the word throughout the neighborhood.  

Later in the day, kids dragged the grill along with the folding table and a few chairs down to the Mary Dean park at the end of the block.  Mr. Dennis came over to help grill, and about 25 folks showed up to celebrate.  


We're establishing quite a record when it comes to neighborkid-led block parties.  How cool is that?

The Love of Sharing

This morning there was a knock at the door – it was Amorie, and he was excited to tell me that the church one block away was sharing food with all of us as neighbors.  He insisted that we go check it out together.  That is so like Amorie – whenever he comes across a great opportunity, his first response is to go tell others so they can benefit from it too.  We headed over together and soon the exploration became a full-fledged neighborhood scavenger hunt, so you can read more about it on the Central-Cocoanut blog.  Here are a few pics:


 What impressed me this morning was how delighted Amorie was by having this food share here in the neighborhood, right down the street, and how his natural inclination was not simply to take the food that was offered, but to make sure other neighbors found out about it, and to contribute as well.   

Amorie is a great example of a real-deal community-builder, and I have much to learn from him.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

One in Food, One in Life

Tonight there was a knock at the door and then...surprise!  The D's brought me a plate for dinner!  Their mom, Ms. Donna, made mac & cheese (my all-time favorite), baked ham, mashed potatoes, and apple pie for dessert.  Yum, what a special treat!  Neighbors have come to know two things about me:  I love to eat, and I'm not much of a cook (though I'm determined to learn!)

Wow, it means a lot to know that neighbors keep me in mind, sharing homemade dinner and other good stuff.  There is a saying:  "Those who are one in food are one in life."  Yep, I'd say so.    

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Well-Loved Homes

This afternoon, Da’Sean was looking for something to do so he decided to take the neighborhood camera and photograph the houses on our block.  Here’s what he came up with:



These pics communicate a lot about the street we live on.  They show that we live in mostly single-story, single-family homes, with driveways, front lawns and greenery.  They show that yards on our street are generally well-kept, though not typically pumped up with sprinkler systems or fertilizer.  They show that front porches and front stoops are pretty common, with some folks preferring to keep neighbors at a distance with fences while other folks welcome people to stop by and chat. 

“Housing conditions” are often recognized as an environmental domain that influences child well-being.  Typically, though, measures and indicators of housing are problem-focused. Take, for example, this report titled, “Doing Better for Children,” issued last year by OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.   Indicators include things like “overcrowding,” “noise levels,” “litter," "dirt and grime,” and “vandalism.”

What if instead we were to see housing quality through the eyes of our neighborkids, and find corresponding positive indicators?  Things like “outdoor play space,” “opportunities for gardening,” “spots to chat with neighbors” and “welcome signs?”  What might we better notice by focusing on the positive, the way kids do?