I don’t have the references here in front of me, but I recall studies that found that people who live in areas with a strong sense of community are healthier than those who don’t. I don’t doubt it. Community is a huge compenent of quality of life. Good community can lower stress; bad experiences with the neighbors can increase stress. It’s hard enough to feel daunted by the people at work, or to experience a little road rage… but feeling unsupported or under attack in your home, your supposed safe haven, day in and day out… that’s tough.
We’re seeing more and more beautiful stories of neighbors helping neighbors through our experience operating Front Porch Forum. First-time parents without nearby family? Word goes out and meals, hand-me-down baby clothes, a changing table and stroller show up. A life-long resident in her 80s struggles to stay in her home… neighbors pitch in cutting grass, raking leaves, shoveling snow.
One of the most moving stories was captured by Cathy Resmer at Seven Days:
Arthur Goyette knows the value of good neighbors. His wife Betty died three years ago, but while she was battling cancer, his neighbors brought countless meals to their Caroline Street home. When the neighbors learned that Betty had always wanted to ride in a convertible, they found a dealership willing to loan them a car, and surprised the Goyettes with a Chrysler Sebring. When the couple drove down the street with the top down, people lined the block waving and taking pictures.
Remembering this time, the 71-year-old Goyette marvels that he barely knew some of the people who helped him. He might never have known them at all if it weren’t for an email newsletter called the Front Porch Forum, which serves the South End neighborhood known as the Five Sisters.
Goyette’s neighbors used the newsletter to organize support for the family. “If the web wasn’t there,” he says, “it never would have happened.” (Read the full article.)
One motivator for starting Front Porch Forum was selfish… Valerie and I know that strong community is and will be crucial for our son’s continued well being. Ben is seven and has severe cerebral palsy. We, Ben and the entire family, need broad support from those around us to provide him with the basics of a good life. He has both incredible potential and severe challenges.
Which brings me to today’s movie… truly amazing. Ben and I get out for walks, we love to swim in the lake, and he’s always enjoyed squeezing into our bike trailer behind me… but we’ll never be in this league. Go see the video (or watch it below) and read the story.
Posted in: Community Building, Front Porch Forum, Media, Stories
Ghost of Midnight is an online journal about fostering community within neighborhoods, with a special focus on Front Porch Forum (FPF). My wife, Valerie, and I founded FPF in 2006... read more
[…] use Front Porch Forum to rally around neighbors who’s house burned, who’s matriarch was facing terminal cancer, who’s child required expensive life-saving surgery, who’s home needed upkeep when the […]