Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fresh Fall Leaves

The weather is crisp and life is a blitz as usual. We've been trying to slow down, establish rituals, and enjoy the season. As a family, we're in a phase of being more politically active. I'm really excited by all the potential change that it looks like may start happening in the world right now. At home, as I've gotten into the swing of living in this small town for a year now, I want to really build community-- or at least get to know a few more of my neighbors. So the plan for this week looks like this, stapled to the telephone poles and taped to the big sycamores on our street:

Come one, come all. (I hope people come!)

Lately I've been inspired by the Playborhood web site. I was reminded of it when I read this article on the "Trick-or-Treater Index." An urban theorist named Richard Florida came up with this index to rate the child-friendliness (basically, the health and safety) of a given community. It basically says that if you count the number of trick-or-treaters you get on Halloween night you get a good indication of how safe and friendly your neighborhood is all year.

(There are exceptions. I lived in a very safe San Francisco neighborhood for years. Every year I would dress up and ready my huge bowl of candy. Every year I would watch as the neighborhood kids made their way to the Halloween party at the martial arts school across the street. Not one trick-or-treater ever graced my door, and every year my downstairs neighbor and her grand-daughters would get our big bowl of candy [or what was left of it] on November 1st. My neighborhood was safe but it wasn't a community. People didn't congregate and kids didn't play outside.)

The beginnings of our Halloween and Dia de los Muertos decor. Ghost tree and blood-sucking spiders not shown.

My current neighborhood is a Halloween heaven. Parents from the big (and very unsafe, if news reports are to be believed) city to the east of us drive their kids in for trick-or-treating, and the neighborhood is full of our own local kids anyway. So we expect a big turnout for the happiest night of the year.

Before that, though, I'm hosting my mother's 70th birthday dinner this weekend. I'll be busy planning and cleaning this week, and I'll post pictures if it turns out lovely. What would you do to make an intimate family party special?


  1. I like that idea. I'm moving and maybe I'll do a drive by and scope out the trick or treaters in new neighborhood.
    Also, I used to live in that big bad city near you. In fact, my daughter was born there. I loved it. Still miss it. God's country.

  2. Hi Kristi, best luck with the move! I hope my facetious tone about Oakland's reputation came off as intended. It's in my five-year-plan to make the move to that big bad city. I see more community in some of the neighborhoods there than I ever saw in San Francisco. As much as it breaks my heart (because SF will always be "my" city) I think the San Francisco we talk about (the one full of artists and bohos and regular working people) is a myth, or history, and no more. But all of that (plus radical politics, intentional community, and amazing sustainable food projects to boot)-- all of that is happening in Oakland.

  3. Argentee -- it absolutely did come off facetious. I know if you live near there, you know how great it is. I love that people have a misconception about it -- let's keep it a secret! I love reading your blog because I miss the Bay Area so much and love your spin on life. (I might have said this before, but I still remember your inner FG piece you wrote on FC about living in the city. very inspirational)

  4. Kristi, that means a lot to me since I enjoyed your book so thoroughly!

    And, yes, the secret Oakland- so beautiful and such a strong sense of community in so much of it. I'm really proud of the people of Oakland right now.


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