Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rooftop block party!!!!

It's that time of the year again folks! The Perseids meteor showers are in town, and it's going to be a huge one this year! Astronomists are predicting showers of up to 100 meteor per hour this year (a regular year boasts 50/hour). Even if you live in an overpopulated suburb or city, you will be able to see a couple of them as long as you place yourself in a spot with little ambient light: like a big park after lights out. Peak time is between 10p.m. and midnight, with another burst around 4 a.m. Although the biggest Perseids will fall on the night of the 11th to the 12th, they should be visible at least until Friday. So get into organisation mode, and get yourself a block party! If you can convince your neighbours to turn out their outdoor lights, then you can have yourselves a mighty show!

What has this got to do with food, you say? Well... Nothing much I suppose, but it could be an ideal occasion to meet your neighbours and talk about food issues, local produce and the problem with suburban sprawl, all the while munching on some organic snacks you threw together. Chances are you live in a city, or at least some form of urban setting, and you hardly see or know your neighbours. If your job entails massive amounts of public relations and fake smiles, then you might be content with being alone or with your immediate circle of people, but on the whole humans are social animals, and our current way of life is not conducive to sociability. A neighbourhood block party is a great way to remedy the problem, and you get to see lots of shooting stars. Remember to wish for carbon-cutting legislation!

There was a time when neighbours all knew each other. And it was not that long ago!!! I grew up in a suburb, and I knew everyone -well, the kids at least- in a ten block radius. When my parents moved into our home, there was a welcoming committee, and every summer we had neighbourhood barbecues. This kind of close knit community still exists in some older neighbourhoods or suburbs, but on the whole they are on the endangered list.

It might seem like a benign problem when compared with global warming and the threat of total annihilation, but it isn't, actually. Close knit communities foster a sense of belonging, and when one belongs one tends to care more about one's immediate surrounding. We don't all live in Stepford Wives-type communities (thank goodness for that!), but neighbours on friendly terms are less likely to throw their trash around or leave heaps of junk on their lawn. People care for each other. Children raised in a friendly neighbourhood grow up to be successful in life (in the real sense of the word: happy and satisfied with their life.)

Neighbourliness fosters a sense of security, because you know you can turn to a neighbour in times of need. You might not be in the mood to go cross-town to have a drink with your BFF, but if a neighbour is hanging out on the porch, you might just drop by for a beer! Close knit communities have lower crime rates.

If you're on friendly terms with your neighbours, then you will be in a better position to steer them towards greener choices. Neighbourliness can diminish some aspects of over-consumption: friendly neighbours lend each other things (think of Ned Flanders on the Simpsons), and share resources. You might start bulk purchasing and sharing with your neighbours: makes those CSA baskets a little less daunting!

All in all, being a good neighbour is a more sustainable way of life and it's a better way to combat the evils of suburban sprawl. Who knows, you might meet up with like minded people! Maybe you'll meet someone who'd love to garden share! Or maybe one of your neighbours is an eco-activist trying to turn a nearby brownfield into a community garden. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

So throw a rooftop party. Enjoy the meteor shower, and bon app'!

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