Within the context of a neighborhood there coexist many forms of relationship. There are the intimate bonds of family between parents and children, siblings, husbands and wives and there are relationships between friends and neighbors. We all share the common experience of living in the same environment, yet there are certain factors that define each type of connection. Loved ones we encounter in the privacy of home, where we let our hair down and curl up in our pajamas. Neighbors we see along sidewalks, in front yards, on porches, and at the coffee shop. There is still a certain intimacy inherent in seeing folks in their home-away-from-home, but it is easy to maintain an acquaintance-type relationship with those you only drift past.
In urban dwellings, it’s hard not to overlap with others. It’s a part of life to overhear private conversations, or catch people when there guard is down, but community is formed when we get to know others with intentionality. Each of us lives within the balance of our public and private selves and we determine who we allow into our lives. We can cherish the unique relationships formed within a family, but life is truly lived when we dare to include the “other”, the outsider, and the new person in our lives.
Valentines can express appreciation for those closest to our hearts–like moms and dads–or they can reach out and show appreciation for the community in all its diverse brilliance. Through a project called Lovin’ the ‘hood, the people of my neighborhood are supporting a new approach to the celebration of Valentine’s Day. We believe declaring our love for the people, places, and things in our vicinity can bring fresh conversation and appreciation to communities. May the love of our neighborhood bring a little love to you and yours!
Miss the start of the series? Check out the archive to enjoy the valentines you didn’t catch!