Doris Bedinger, Burlington Cohousing East Village
I lived in Salina, Kansas for 31 years. Every time I left the house I ran into someone I knew, and often, knew well. Newly arrived in Burlington, I knew only my daughters and a couple of their friends. The first time I was out and saw someone I had met recently, I went over and hugged her.
A Green Living article (Autumn 2013) says the key to lively communities is “crossroads,” as in “how many times and places do you have the opportunity to cross paths with each other?” and, “What do you have in your community that allows you to bump into each other?”
So I began to enumerate the places we cross paths in East Village: the dining room, hallways, courtyard, garden, berry bushes, compost bins, bottleneck door by the mail room, driveway, recycling bins, laundry room, work days, clotheslines, kitchen (common meals and cooking), playground, puzzle table, patio…..it is almost impossible not to run into a neighbor just going about our lives here. I know the architects and visionaries of this, our home, did this very intentionally. It works.
Getting to know someone when you meet regularly and casually is different than knowing about big life events like an illness, a move, a death, or a marriage. Stopping for a moment and sharing the details of a granddaughter’s soccer game, a good book, a child who made your favorite birthday cake, a recipe, a medical experience, a thrift store, whether the grapes are ready, a hard day at work, your child’s teething, a Sunday hike, a moonlight sail, your son’s struggles with his job, your brother’s fall, new steps into the woods, or an out of town visitor , are, for me, the keys to a lively, connected community. It is all in the details.
It was not very many days, hours really, before I felt the beginnings of connection. Moving here, to East Village, was intentional. I knew I would greatly miss what I left back in Salina, and I needed to live in a place where I could quickly become part of a healthy community, a place with lots of crossroads. It is a love affair on the rebound of sorts. I think it will last.