for book club we are reading The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner which is about happiness and what makes people happy. the author travels around the world to poor nations and countries that are statistically happy and various governing bodies to find out what makes people happy. i just started the book, so i don't have all the answers yet, but i'll be sure to post when i become enlightened.
something that did strike me in the book already was this:
"Trusting your neighbors is especially important. Simply knowing them can make a real difference in your quality of life. One study found that, of all the factors that affect the crime rate for a given area, the one that made the biggest difference was not the number of police patrols or anything like that but, rather, how many people you know within a fifteen-minute walk of your house."
community. do you have it? i'd like to think i do because i know a few neighbors from the community garden we tended to last summer. and i run toward city park a few times a week and i nod at my neighbor sitting on his porch as i leave and come home. but the fact of the matter is i live in five points, all be it a trendy block, but still five points. homeless wonder down the alley, packs of kids spray paint my garage door, 2 kids got shot at the park i use to run around. and do we ever got police patrol. there's police rolling by our house multiple times a week and those hoovering helicopters aren't checking on a car wreck during rush hour.
i live downtown in the midst of yuppies and homeless men and low-rent housing and hispanics and blacks. i know a few yuppies because i am a yuppie. i don't know the homeless, the helpless, the needy. how sad for me.
the quality of life would go up for everyone if we knew our neighbors, not just because we feel safe and can trust people, but because community (as an action word not a noun) is what we all desire, to be known and to know others.
the other day, we received a valentine invitation in our mail slot. someone is having a st. valentine's day tea and they have invited the neighborhood. i have no idea who the invitation is from, but i am going to attend, i am going to put my insecurities aside to know my neighbors and have community.
how many people do you know within a fifteen minute walk?