So I'm not a joiner. I'll admit that much. Never really toyed with the idea of joining a sorority (they're just for pretty girls, and I'm pretty and smart, or so the rationale goes). Never, never wanted to be friends with everyone I met. Nor do I expect to be liked by everyone. That would require me to actually talk to all people, which I have always viewed as an acute waste of time and energy.
Elitist, perhaps. Protectionist definitely.
Still, I apparently every once and a while feel the need to ride the preverbial mechanical bull of social organizing. I was president of my women's club in Germany (smart women, mind you!) and now I've taken on neighborhood organizing. Apparently, I am a glutton for punishment. Still, it seems to me that especially in the burbs like where I live, it's important to know your neighbors.
It's especially important to know your neighbors if you live down the street from a pimp/drug dealer.
So, I suppose my organizing bug is a fair part survival instinct. Still, it always seemed to me to work better with the carrot than the stick. So I decided to organize a 4th of July picnic for the neighborhood. I delivered flyers in every mailbox (even the pimp's!), I bought foamcore and made signs. I even bought american flags, for God's sakes, and streamers, and patriotic tablecloths. Not something that this mama would ever really do. I'm just not the "garden flag" type.
Anyhow, out of 60 houses, 12 showed up (including us). It was certainly an interesting group. We have lots of diversity for such a small, relatively new neighborhood in what I consider to be a relatively white, American state. We had our older paranoid gossip couple (the woman totally reminds me of Lynette's babysitter on Desperate Housewives), we had our good christian family with four daughters (I think the woman was taken aback when I hinted that we were Jewish. Bizarro).
Yet, I couldn't help but feel let down that there weren't more people there. It felt as though the whole neighborhood was posing like those monkeys "See no Evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." Suffice it to say, no pimps or even neighbors of pimps showed up.
My husband and I have had many discussions on how to get people motivated to care, and look out for each other. We have this (call it idealistic) thought that the more people know each other, the more uncomfortable it will be for the pimps.
I've even had fantasies of surreptitiously delivering welcome packets of flowers and brownies to the pimp's mailbox. If caught, I could simply shrug and say I wanted them to feel welcome in the neighborhood (of course hoping for the exact opposite effect). These people want to operate with a fair amount of anonymity. The less you allow them that, the more likely it is, perhaps, that they will move elsewhere.
That having been said, my husband wants me in no way, shape or form to be leaving baked goods in the pimp's mailbox. Still, I love the fantasy of it.
Do you out there have any ideas of what might work for us? How has your neighborhood worked on building community? Have you dealt with any safety concerns or difficult neighbors? Any good (or even off-the-wall fun) ideas on how to go about fostering community and at the same time making the pimps feel unwelcome?
Write to me. Otherwise, I might be driven to greater lengths of social gregariousness. And we wouldn't want it to come to that now, would we?