Josh and Zoe live around the corner from us with their two tots. I saw their original posting in our neighborhood forum asking for help moving from their rental across the street to their new home. We had planned to stop by to help schlep a few boxes, but one thing led to another and we didn’t make it. I wonder how many other people wanted to pitch in like us, but didn’t for some reason. And, as my better half, Valerie, said, what a great sense of community that allows people to feel okay about asking for this kind of help. Amen.
From: Five Sisters Neighborhood Forum, Issue No. 1,282
Front Porch Forum
By Josh Brown, December 05, 2006
Just over a week ago, we moved [across Catherine Street]. And what was it like? It was like a swarm of giant leaf-cutter ants suddenly descended on our apartment and carried everything away; It was like Hogwarts had put their best people on the job; it was like the gods of suction applied a vacuum to our stacked boxes and furniture and they shot out, miraculously, into all the right places at the other end; it like was one of those stop-action films where an entire day’s weather passes in a moment. It was downright fun.
OK, we exaggerate.
But we do say thank you, thank you, thank you, to the wonderful crowd of friends and neighbors who came out to help last Sunday. It was humbling and heartwarming to have 36 people show up, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, in response to our request for help here on the Five Sister forum and move all our things down the street in an hour and a half. When Jess Lily arrived a bit before noon, I thought, “great, at least there’ll be some else to help with the heavy stuff.” Then a few more people showed up and so it seemed good to station myself at the top of the stairs to try to tell them what things to pick up.
But I soon realized that, like a good wedding, it was only a little bit about us – and it was more about community and collective wisdom. Instead of needing directions, people seemed to know better than we did where things should go. Within a few moments, the best I could do was to stand back and try not to get in the way or gape, as a stream of people came up and down the stairs, buzzed across the street with a load and returned, smiling.
Of course, there were a few spots that we just hadn’t gotten to cleaning and organizing before the moving day, like the messy back porch and jumbled garage. A little embarrassed, Zoe and I tried to say, “Oh, don’t worry about that mess, we’ll get it later.”
Ha. The group knew better – and within a few minutes someone had packed up all the milk bottles and crud on the back porch and Dave N. had backed his pick-up into the garage, where a crowd loaded it up and delivered it within 10 minutes.
When a socket wrench was needed, it appeared; when the picnic table seemed like it would be a pain to get down the stairs, a team lowered it off the second-story porch by rope; our bed was not just moved, it was fixed; Rosalie’s finicky crib was dismantled then expertly reassembled; all the picture hangers in the old place were taken out and put in a bag; carpets vacuumed; the buckets of potting soil were subdued; a crew set up the beds in just the right spots at the new house so we’d have a place to sleep. And these are just a few examples of the rain of goodwill that fell on us that day.
Most people, I posit, are looking for this kind of thing. We’re seeing more and more stories like Josh and Zoe’s flow through Front Porch Forum… although it seems the majority just happen and don’t get discussed… so it’s hard to quantify the good will.
P.S. Glad to see that the Burlington Free Press also covered this good news in its holiday blog.
Posted in: Community Building, 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