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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mi Vecina Reminded Me of a Fundamental

As I left for work (late) this morning, I noticed one of my neighbors from a few houses down gathering wood fallen from trees and putting them in the city dumpster. She was hard at work & didn't look up at all, although I was feet away from her and I'm more than sure she knew I'd walked out of the house.
At first, I didn't think much of it, more concerned with getting to work before anyone noticed, but then, as I started to drive towards the I-10W ramp, I started to reflect on it.
We've been discussing things that we feel are needed in order for us to 'bring up' our neighborhood via the Denver Harbor Fan Page on Facebook. Many people have discussed retail options, cleaner streets, better upkeep of homes by residents, etc. - & I put it together in my mind like this:
This woman that didn't even bother to look up at me as I was opening my gate, getting in my car, backing out - all within feet of her- was not a random or new neighbor. This is a woman who drove me to school for part of my middle school years at McReynolds & took me cada dia to a Summer course so that I could get into Debakey for high school. She and my mother were friends. They would talk on the phone, keep each other up to date on going-ons on the block, and who would trade favors to help each other out. I grew up with her kids and never hesitated to feel like I can walk up to her and say hello or help her out if she needed things.
What changed? How did it happen that her and our family went from being so interconnected - not dependent- but communal in our exchange, to not even looking up from our own world?
It bothered me, mi gente- because change, learning, & beauty starts in the home- on the block- with us knowing each other. If we know each other, we will give a damn about each other. And when we don't...Well, we see where it's been taking us.
Many of the old residents did grow up and leave DH, but not all of us did. To recapture what DH was and absolutely has the potential to be again, we need to talk to one another.
To start- Say hello when you come across anyone on the street- old and young. If a woman is walking down the street with groceries and trying to keep her 3 kids in tow at the same time, watch out for her till she's safely across the street. Ask your neighbor if your kid could mow their lawn since he's already mowing yours. Take a moment from your busy existence to notice someone co-existing next door, down the street, or in your communidad..and I know, we'll see how the face of our barrio changes for the better. And even more importantly, those young eyes that watch our every move for direction, will learn how to work together for a common goal in our community.
Con Safos y Puro Amor

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