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Nature can teach us a thing or two about building healthy neighborhoods!

We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.

Max de Pree
Over the years,  we have discovered that monocropping or the practice of growing the same crop year after year in the same space is destructive to our environment. Eventually, the soil is depleted of nutrients, the crops require more use of pesticides and fertilizers, and it all breaks down. If you have a community and all people have the same attributes it may work for a bit, but eventually, it deteriorates, and no new growth comes forth from a place where people are restrictive year after year.
 Humans are not monocropped, but if we were, it would not make a healthy habitat.  In our neighborhoods,  we don’t get to pick who lives next door or down the street, but we have to share space with each other in our urban areas. If we learn from nature, that biodiversity produces a healthy environment than the strength of a healthy neighborhood is inclusiveness or a place where everyone accepts the individual. This does not mean we will agree all the time, but we learn to work together for the health of our habitat!

Most humans don’t live in cookie cutter communities where everyone is exactly alike, thinks alike, have the same job, etc. I feel cookie cutter neighborhoods would be like monocropping, and we all know how that worked out! I have learned over the years how to get along and appreciate a variety of people. It has not always been easy, but learning to help one another just like nature….. makes a healthy community.

Monocropping lacked plant diversity, and another fault was the lack of rotation in the growing process. They would not rotate crops to help the soil heal from year to year. I was thinking this year that over the years by getting to know my neighbors + inviting them over, I have expanded my life and created a healthy environment. I feel when people isolate themselves from others and only socialize with those that think or agree as they do, we build communities that are restrictive and our “life soil” are not healthy.

The past few years I have made it a goal to invite a neighbor over for dinner/garden brunch/backyard get together. Invite someone new that you have never thought of having over + you will find your “life soil” will be enriched every year + you will live a very healthy life!

love your neighbor....

34 replies »

  1. Oh Robbie – you are such a treasure! I so long for us all to feel like that – it seems to me that most of my blogging community carry this consciousness to some degree – and you just excel at it!

    The people on your street are very fortunate to have you in close proximity – I think you must have made a real difference to the life of your community.

    Are those photos taken in your garden – the angels are gorgeous and I admire very much the way you overlay images on top of other images – very artistically done 🙂 Your posts are always a feast for the eyes as well as the heart!

    • Pauline, you are so right about our cyber community. We are all very different and we are all “individuals” with our own passions, but our hearts are all in the same place:-) Isn’t it grand:-) I feel the key in life is to make a difference where you are planted + leave the world a better place. We can’t all do it in a big way, so in our own way we all do….
      Yes, I was messing with overlaying, blending etc with my own textures, photos etc. I am learning how to do more of it and it is a lot of fun. In 2010, I had no idea how to do some of this stuff, but like you I try to read and learn everyday how to do new things with photos + art. I guess it is my way of expressing myself. I am having fun with it and each week I learn more techniques. Yes, I collect angels + garden fairies which you will see more of in my garden this summer + here. I just LOVE the little imaginary “wee folk” that live in my garden-they come to life when you are not looking!

      • See, I would do that too if I had anything larger than a pocket handkerchief! I love angels and fairies – I believe heartily in both!!

        Your photos always look lovely when you have been ‘messing with them’ 🙂 I don’t have much imagination when it comes to photos the most I have managed is to use some of those on-line sites that fiddle with them for me . I shall take inspiration from your beautiful presentations and maybe one day do something about that aspect ….. we’ll see. 🙂

      • There was such a learning curve for me in the adobe elements etc. + there still is a daily struggle with learning all the things I can do etc. I want to get a pen to draw that would replace my mouse ,but have to save for that like your cart-lol
        I have a lot of old pictures from my husbands grandmother that I want to do things with etc.
        I have struggled with my camera with all it’s bells and whistles, but I don’t give up! Wendy was asking about it one day + felt discouraged. I said just go out and take a lot of pictures and you will take many that won’t be good, but don’t give up. I take at least 100 before I get one that I even want to use:-)I am a little fussy-lol

    • Hi Linne-thank you so much. I agree it is very hard, but if we try our best it can be such an enriching experience. I have not always found it easy at times, but I try to work at it everyday:-) I sure am having fun with all the photos + techniques. I guess it is my way of “dying” with photos( I love your colors!)+ knitting them together like your cardigans! I love all the colors:-)

    • Hi sarah-so glad you stopped by. I am so excited about your space + so eager to see your adventures in starting a new garden. It sounds like you are shining where you are too! You are building community with your work party + you love to bike like me. I am so sick of snow right now + eager to get back on the Great River Trail I ride when there is not snow all over it!

    • Hi Chloris-thank you very much.I just love your blog + lovely photos + all the wisdom you share:-) I am so grateful that digital photography has become more accessible to those of us that never could afford darkrooms in the dark ages-lol

  2. Wow Robbie, another thought provoking post. What an admirable goal. I think I will take you up on that! – Coming from someone who believes fences make better neighbors!

    • lol Kathy:-) Yes, I know you did put up that fence, but that is okay since it makes a great backdrop for your garden. If you notice I have a bamboo fence up between my neighbors in certain areas because his little dogs are always barking at my dogs + it is a big drama all the time. It has not always been easy, but reaching out is easier than living in conflict. I have two other neighbors behind me + one is wonderful. I share plants with her all the time + help her figure out some of her gardening problems. The other neighbor was not always so easy.One time he threw stuff in my yard + came outside another to yell at my husband and I about my composting at the back of the yard. He was having a bad day + after he calmed down we found out his mother and him have horrible health issues. I wrote a post on his angry outburst last summer + decided to take it off my blog since I felt badly after talking to him.
      It was not easy to work it out with him, but sometimes just understanding why people behave the way they do makes it easier to be less upset:-) Shoot he is not very old and he and his mother both have pacers for their hearts. His area gets kind of messy at times because he just does not have the physical energy. I just work around it now:-) All is good now.

    • I have more fairies out there some you don’t see:-) tee hee. Thank you Wendy-I need to stay positive right now since I am so sick of snow!!!!Mother nature is teasing us today it is almost 50 degrees! Then next week it is back to the is the roller coaster ride of spring I most dislike, but it won’t be much longer. I just need to stop by and look at all your beauty + bounty!!!

  3. In this between time before the next growing season, it’s great to read how someone is growing community! (And nice illos, too!!!) We’ve been so encouraged to just “consume” and not worry about where our “food” came from, it’s great to have this reminder about the power and importance of good soil. We are what we eat–in all ways!!! Thanks for this thoughtful post!

    • Thank you + I really am thankful for your thoughtful post today on swans- we need to care about our critters in our habitats + not just the two legged:-)

  4. Yes, we have so much to learn from nature. Happy that you stopped by so I could find your blog 🙂 Judy

  5. Oh Robbie, what a wonderful post! I love your analogy between us and plants…we’re all part of nature. 🙂 I don’t have many neighbors, which works well for me and is probably good because I’m quite solitary, :)…… but if I could pick one, I would love for it to be you!

    • aww Annie-that would be perfect if I could be your neighbor + hang out sipping herbal tea on your beautiful hillside garden! We could share seeds + talk on and on and on about all our plants and no one would roll their eyes-lol:-)

  6. Hi Robbie….I enjoy all your posts , but this one is especially beautiful, in content as well as the pictures. Love your idea of sharing with neighbors. Looking forward to spring…and of course your continuing posts!!

    • Hi Mary-thank you so much:-) I sure miss reading your posts. I was pondering if my golden verdolaga would be back this year. I read the golden one may be a bit more tender. I sure enjoyed it in my garden + I remember reading your wonderful post the first I ever read on this nutritious veggie with omegas! I bet you are not under snow and starting your roof top garden in Spain. We have rain today + it is not snow which is good thing. It went north of us this time! Thank goodness!

  7. Hi Robbie… That second last picture on the garden table and wall… woooh, gorgeously done up… we have been inviting our neighbors for the past few years too… it is so enjoyable and after each meet, the neighbors are always looking forward to the next one…

    • Hi Lrong:-) It is so fun messing with elements and pictures:-)How wonderful they look forward to the next makes it worth it all!If a person keeps it to themselves, what good is it? I love sharing plants, food , + flowers I grow in our garden with others. It is the beauty of growing all this stuff:-)

  8. What a great comment on the various kinds of bio-diversity we share. Including the people is really important. I love that you have your neighbors over to meet them. We do the same, and have cookouts every summer to meet new people and retain old friendships. Louie has been in this house for over 30 years and knows most of the people around here so it’s always fun to go for walks together and see all the friendly faces. It makes for a real neighborhood feeling and it’s grand. I’m glad you have this too and work to increase your connections. They’re so important as we get older especially and need to have friends check up on us and making sure we’re all OK together. Community is wonderful! And I totally agree with you about mono-cropping . It’s such a dangerous practice, both in plants and in people. We Need diversity or we’ll all die out. How boring! 😉
    Thanks for a beautiful post Robbie,

    • I am so glad you live in a wonderful neighborhood like you do:-) That is amazing Louie lived there for 30 years! I believe roots like plants are good for the soul:-)They are sure important as you get older since this year we truly are empty nesters:-) We have only lived in our home since 1999 and this past year we just had 6 houses sell on our street. There is a turnover since many of the older ones are leaving + some have passed away. New people have moved in and we truly have a multigenerational neighborhood. I need to get out and start meeting the new ones this year + maybe have a block party!

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