Sunday, May 30, 2010

Silly Bands On the Block

Have you ever spotted something that you sense, from the moment you first encounter it, is something worth paying attention to?  That's what it felt like today when Tamiyah proudly showed me these:

Evidently, these are called "silly bands."  They are brightly colored rubber bracelets in different shapes, and some of the other kids were wearing some too.  Is Tamiyah an "early adopter?" Will these bracelets become all the rage here on the block?  We shall see...!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

D&D Dinner x 2

This month, the neighborkids of honor in Central-Cocoanut are Dalisha and DuShun -- both soon-to-be fifth-graders.  They proposed that since they are older than neighborkids who have been honored so far, their celebration ought to include two kinds of dinners -- the "traditional" neighborhood dinner, and also a double-date of sorts.  Curious to see what might develop, we said - why not?

Together, Dalisha and DuShun scoped out the restaurants of Sarasota for the double-date, and decided upon O'Leary's Tiki Bar & Grill, which is only 1.7 miles and 5 min. (by car) from our block.

Then Tim and I were honored to be chosen as fellow dinner-mates.  Here are some pics of everyone enjoying the evening.

A week later, Dalisha and DuShun were honored on the block.  DuShun's mom Ms. Cassandra and his auntie Angie came over to do the cooking, and there was standing room only for the celebration!  

Dalisha invited Mr. Hugh too, whom she knows from the CSO Dinners.  He brought neat packages of scavenger hunting supplies for Dalisha and DuShun, and one for the whole group of Neighborhood Scavenger Hunters.  He also brought something incredibly special that his daughter (who is now in college) asked him to bring along:  her childhood pencil collection!  Hugh's daughter collected hundreds and hundreds of pencils when she was a kid.  When she heard about the neighborhood scavenger hunters, and heard that her dad was one of the invited guests, she decided that the scavenger hunters would be a great group to take over her prize collection.  Wow, what an honor!  How's that for GenY-Z connection?     

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CSO Dinner with Our Neighbor Ms. Valerie

This month's Community Self-Organizing Dinner featured our neighbor, Ms. Valerie Buchand.  Ms. Valerie has been a long-time resident leader in the Janie Poe public housing development at the north end of our neighborhood.  Her advocacy led to the mixed-income and mixed-use redevelopment of the area - now called Janie's Gardens.  One of the new streets in our neighborhood is named after her -- Valerie Way!

As neighborkids served pizza they had baked, Ms. Valerie told us about the kids of Janie Poe and Janie's Gardens who come to her house to make dinner together and play games.  They have named themselves the Mighty Mights, and they are figuring out how to organize themselves as a formal group, with officers and official meetings.

Ms. Valerie suggested that someday soon the two groups of kids could connect and work together as fellow neighbors.  Then I bet we'll be able to see all sorts of natural connections that already exist among the kids of Central-Cocoanut!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Naturalists on the Block

These days spring is busting out all over, which means there are lots of opportunities to check out nature here on the block.  Today when I got home, Da'Sean, Holly and Dareeona proudly showed me the bug box they created, and their latest insect discoveries:

Later, I heard some excitement out front -- this time it was a bunch of kids figuring out together how to investigate a slug they just found:

The wild hibiscus is now flowering, too, so Amorie and Holly are tracking the ways the blossoms change colors over time.

Neighborkids are everyday scientists, making the most of nature on the block.  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Neighborkids Start Microlending On the Block

The kids who will be honored at this month's Neighborkid Dinner are Dalisha and DuShun.  Dalisha is already thinking about what outfit she wants to wear, and concluded that she really wants a new pair of fancy shoes.  She asked if she could borrow some money, and this led to the impromptu invention of a neighborkid loan option using the money in the scavenger hunters' cash box, which is money that the neighborhood scavenger hunters made at the yard sale a few months back.

Since the money belongs to the Neighborhood Scavenger Hunters as a group, Dalisha called a meeting of scavenger hunters to discuss the possibility of establishing the loan option.  It took some time to explain the concept, with a little help from me, but finally everybody got it, and said yes, let's start with one person and see how it goes!

Dalisha wrote down how much money she is borrowing, on what date, for what purpose, to be paid back by what date.

With $20 in hand, she was ready for shoe shopping!  Here's Dalisha trying on an especially fancy pair.

Who would have thought that the neighborkids would be the first folks to start up micro-lending here in Central-Cocoanut!  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rest in Peace, Snickers

A sad day here on the block -- Gus' best buddy Snickers died.  These two were the closest of neighbor-pups ever since they were tiny.

The D's are especially sad, as Snickers was their dog.  Here are Darry and Dalisha reading the sympathy card that neighborkids gave them:

When pets die, neighbors are close enough to notice, close enough to grieve together, and close enough to comfort one another.  Kids really seem to get this.

Rest in peace, Snickers.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A School Visit with Neighbors

Since different parts of our 50-block neighborhood are zoned for different elementary schools, not all the kids go to the same school.  Kids play together everyday on the block, though, so they hear about each other's schools.  This weekend, when the D's invited us to come to the spring fair at their school, Fruitville Elementary, Holly and I were eager to check it out.  Once we arrived, Holly quickly spotted Dalisha, and hopped in line with her so they could get their hair spray painted. 

Later we snapped pics of one another in these classic carnival poses:


Later, while Dalisha was playing with her school friends, Holly checked out the playground:

Before we headed home, Dalisha showed us a few more neat features of the fair.

 Often, people with the Department of Education talk about the importance of "community engagement" in schools.  What if we were to pay closer attention to the ways kids are able to drum up enthusiasm about the schools they attend, and the schools their friends and neighbors attend?  We all might learn a lot.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Beauty on the Block

When I got home today I was greeted by neighborkids Dareeona, Holly and Chunk Chunk, who had decorated our street with delightful "expressions of affection" -- chalk drawings of hearts, suns, and all sorts of creatures.  Sarasota hosts an annual chalk festival downtown -- we are fortunate here in Central-Cocoanut to have chalk artists in the neighborhood all year long!

The light was beautiful this afternoon, so we decided to walk the three blocks from our houses to the bay and watch the sun set. 

Wow, we live in such a beautiful place.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Neighborkid Pool Party

Today was the birthday celebration for neighborkid brother/sister duo Amorie and Shyya.  Their parents and extended family hosted a pool party for them at the La Quinta Inn, on the other side of Route 41, across the street from our neighborhood.  Gus and I were lucky enough to be invited, so we showed up with a few noodles to join in the fun.  While Gus hung out in the shade under a jasmine bush, I snapped some pictures of the festivities.  I didn't realize how many of our neighborkids are talented swimmers!


To top it all off, there was a hotdog-eating contest.

I can just imagine all the great memories everybody will have of this celebration.

Thanks and happy birthday, Amorie and Shyya!