Planting a seed for community betterment
Master plans, grants, bond issues, and the like may help make our communities better places to live and work.
But in an age in which everyone seems to expect someone else, from governments to “bull” attorneys, to bail them out whatever problems arise, we need to understand that real community betterment starts at home, with each and every one of us.
There may not be an “I” in “team,” but there certainly is a “U” in “community.” And if we want any town to fit us to a “T,” we have to recognize that we “own” a great portion of the responsibility for doing so.
Spring officially will begin Monday. As we emerge from our winter hibernation with expanded daylight hours, we’ll have plenty of time to look around and see what needs to be done.
Is your paint peeling? Does your patch of weeds that passes for a lawn need re-seeding? Is your sidewalk safe for kids and families to comfortably stroll along? Or is it, perhaps, missing, forcing your neighbors to walk in the street?
A favorite poem from my youth was something that appeared on calendars my grandparents gave out when they ran the local funeral home:
I like to live in a little town,
Where the trees meet across the street,
Where you wave your hand and say hello
To everyone you meet.
A few of us still wave, or at least nod, to strangers, even if we had to learn the hard way that doing so in other communities tagged you as a pervert.
But trees no longer meet across our streets. As I stare out a window of a house my parents moved to the day before I was born, I see only barren empty places where at least four trees used to flourish. Where flowerbeds and rows of peonias used to appear, only patchy grass remains.
Want to increase the resale value of your home? Dress up its curb appeal — not with some rusty bicycle or school sign but with trees, flowers, and a well-manicured lawn.
The best time to plant a tree may have been 20 years ago, but the second best time is today. Not only will it increase your resale value. Shade and shelter will lower your utility bills.
If you’re looking for more instant gratification, planting bulbs rather than screwing in electric ones will reward you more quickly.
Some may say they’re too old to do this, but isn’t that what neighbors are for — to help those who came before us and provided many of the best things in the community?
Some may say they’re too busy with family life, but what would happen if, instead of spending all our time shuttling kids to the huge array of sports and activities available, we created an activity at home of planting and maintaining our yards?
Yes, government could help. Perhaps it could provide grants to help with sidewalks or planting trees or even painting and scraping. But aren’t we the same people who constantly bemoan how big our government has become and how we would rather spend our money than have government spend it for us?
Spring is a time for cleaning, fixing, and improving both our habitat and our attitudes. Let’s own our town by volunteering to improve our neighborhoods through our own efforts rather than waiting for someone else to fix things.
Let’s not wait for inspectors to chastise neighbors who aren’t with the program — who let their yards turn to weeds or who seem to think every inch of space is a place to park some boat, trailer, or junky vehicle.
A gentle nudge from a neighbor who practices what he or she preaches can be far more effective than certified letters from government offices.
It’s time all of us stop waiting for others to fix our communities and begin fixing them ourselves.
— ERIC MEYER