One drunken night a few weeks ago, the Shotwell storefront of a small design firm enchants me. How could it not? Behind plate-glass perch tiny plastic toys, a vase of blossoms for the visual delectation of passers-by, and a letter propped in a polished black typewriter promising love from the rocks.
Of course, I fish out a pen and notepad from a little-boy coat pocket, so that I could scribble a note to slip under door re: the depth of my crush and would you visit me at my little chunk of diaryland, please?
The next day, an e-mail arrives in my e-mailbox, wishing me many rocks. Are you in the neighborhood? Miss J inquires. "Yes," I reply; I was in the neighborhood at that moment (when I answered the e-mail) and at that other moment (when I slipped the note under door). I’m such a literalist . . . but how could I predict that Miss J would promptly add me to the neighborhood goodwill list-serv?
Which makes me chortle; I am, after all, still neighborhood-less. Meaning, I am living vicariously through e-mail concerns over clean-up days, bikeway proposals (the subject of apparently heated debate) and tree plantings. Oh, to have a neighborhood where everyone worried about the droop and yellow of the neighborhood’s trees!
Of course, a certain amount of class privilege is needed to maintain a safe, clean neighborhood, since being safe and clean signify civilization; civilized people rarely make mess. They would never have strangers (i.e. non-neighborhood people) urinate in their driveways or make unnecessary noise. And god forbid, please don’t let those skaters sit on the stoop of their apartment house imbibing Coronas on a warm Sunday night!
Don't think that I'm bashing this list-serv or its intents at all - these are simply tangents sparked by recent thoughts on being house-less rather than homeless. (The distinction is crucial.) To be able to have the time for neighborhood projects means you have the money to fund those projects – as well as the Internet access needed for the list-serv. So how may poor neighborhoods creatively organize themselves re: the improvement of their physical space? How can they do it without new money and the city itself imposing standards that are just not affordable and perhaps even repressive?
. . .
You miss the point, but I'm not surprised. The residents of Eddy and 3rd Streets are busy dodging bullets and other lethal stuff. They'd be delighted if their only problem were hookers on the streets. You're certainly in an effective cocoon. Who wove it?