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The Urban Coyote之 Block Parties A How To Guide

(2010-04-08 13:18:48)
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杂谈

分类: 翻译

Block Parties: A “How To” Guide

(September 1989)

As I strolled through the neighborhood returning from a Sunday evening run, I was thinking about how burned out I was from a long workweek. And how much of a pleasure it would be to get home and fix dinner and relax with the paper, which I had not yet read, and perhaps watch 60 minutes, and then maybe make a few fund-raising phone calls for a non-profit organization. I was savoring the gift of peace and quiet conferred on me by the absence of Mrs. Coyote and all the Little Coyotes, who were visiting family out of town.

A block from the house, I spied a neighborhood friend sitting on the screened porch of her house reading a book. I hadn’t talked to her for several months. She didn’t see me. Should I say hello, or pass on by to my peaceful dinner, paper, news and fund-raising?

“Hello Ann,” I called. “Hello,” she smiled, and we talked for a minute through the screen. She invited me in. should I accept or rush home for the last half of 60 Minutes?

I went in. As I cooled down on her porch with a glass of ice water, we spend a half-hour discussing each other’s families and the grand political/social/ethical/ecological issues of the day. I finally got up, a bit stiff, and thanked her for the water. She thanked me for stopping in. Then I walked home.

What did that stop cost me? A lot. Time is money, money is time. I missed 60 minutes plus several phone calls.

What did I gain? Not much, as I am sure Ann will agree. We did not solve the ethical/social/political/ecological crises of the day, nor did we even agree whether we should pursue them idealistically or pragmatically. The information we exchanged about our children will not change their lives or ours.

And yet I’m glad I stopped. And that she invited me in. and that we talked.

This kind of gain id not measured in half-hour segments of hard-hitting news and information. Nor is it measured in growth along the career path. It doesn’t enhance our children’s enhance our children’s chances of attending the college of their choice, nor feed the cat, water the grass, call the plumber, wipe the counter, sweep the driveway, fix the car or paint the porch.

We just “caught up,” playing our parts in the slow procession called neighborhood.

A more formal element in the process of neighborhood is the block party, and the two are linked.

Our welcome to this particular neighborhood was cemented by an invitation to a block party on Humboldt Avenue one block from us the year we moved in. That was fifteen years ago, and we still eagerly attend that gathering.

In the beginning, the Humboldt Avenue invitations were handwritten and distributed door by little Kelen and White kids. Now the invitations are laser-printed and distributed by big Kelen and White kids. But the rules are the same. Bring your own food and drink. Grills provided (as long as enough people lend their grills). What a wonderfully simple formula for catching up with old neighbors and meeting new ones while drinking and grilling on the side. Now no one need be strangers in their neighborhood.

For the last decade or so, I have advocated a party on our block since we have benefited so much from the next block’s efforts.

Thanks to Humboldt avenue, I have also learned the few other required procedures:

1)    Call the city clerk. Ask for an application for a “Block Event” permit at least two weeks before the desired date. Send in fifteen dollars, plus the signature of seventy-five percent of the households facing the affected street. On the morning of the event, the Public Works Dept. will deliver barricade used to block automobile access to the street. They’ll pick them up the following day.

2)    Distribute leaflets along the blocks of your choice, giving street name of event, location, time, fee(if any), food type to bring, a rain date.

3)    Prepare a communal dish.

4)    Attend.

Number four often is the hardest part. All of us have higher priorities than neighborliness gnawing at our time, such work and school and vacations to escape from work and school.

All true. So you may have to miss it. But if you do, attend every year you can.

Because the “low priority” benefits of block parties accrue as deep deposits in the community bank. These deposits pay invaluable interest in the form of a sense of belonging and a sense of place.

I am convinced that these payments have lifetime value; therefore, I advise everyone I know to a new neighborhood—a block party If the area consists of private houses, otherwise an apartment “floor party” or “condo party.” My mother started one of these in her retirement condominium in Florida, and it has become a much-anticipated annual event, the only occasion in her building where residents take the time to get to know each other.

This year our block finally threw its party. I pontificated on the subject for years, bur Mrs. Coyote finally organized it.

Was our block party a success?

Well, the scheduled day was the only one in two weeks that threatened a torrential downpour. This was consistent with Mrs. C’s expectations. She should be hired as a rainmaker. Every outdoor event she plans brings ferocious storms. However, it actually only sprinkled that day.

Did anyone show up? Yes, a good crowd, at least half of them new to us from the immediate two-block area.

Did we eat well? Of course. The loaves and fished story is acted out at every block party.

Did we have a good time? Like all parties, this one passed too quickly, and I was able to talk at length to only a few of the new neighbors. One turned out to be an old acquaintance who had been living only a block away for over a year and I didn’t know it.

Will we do it again? Of course. How obvious. A block party? It’s so simple. Next year we will “catch up” again.

Thank you, Kelen and Whites, for the gift of inclusion fifteen years ago. Thank you, Mrs. Coyote, for finally getting it started on our block.

Now who is going to do it on yours? So that when you walk through your neighborhood, tired, burned out, alone, the opportunity for real human contact will be there in every house you pass. So you too can call, “Hello, Ann,” through a screen. You too can receive a smile of recognition in return.

指导手册:如何办好街区派对

(1989年九月)

当结束了周日晚上的跑步,在社区里散步的时候,我开始想这周那漫长的工作是多么的熬人。回到家里,吃过晚饭,翻一翻未读的报纸,或者看会儿“新闻60分”,或者还可以打几个电话,为一个非盈利组织筹点善款。我享受着这份平静与安宁,因为狼妈妈和小狼崽子们都不在家,出城访亲去了。

在与住处隔条街的地方,我忽然看到了一位邻居朋友,正坐在她屋前门厅的屏帐里读书。我和她已经有几个月没聊聊了。她没有看见我。我是否应该打个招呼,还是回家吃饭、读报、看新闻人后筹钱?

“你好,安,”我了个打招呼。“你好啊,”她笑着回应。而后我们隔着纱帘聊了有一分钟。她要去我进去,我是应该接受邀请,还是赶回家看“新闻60分”的后半部分。

我走了进去,在门厅里喝了杯冰水,顿觉凉爽。我们聊了半个小时,谈论着家长里短,以及当前的国计民生、道德还有环境等。最后我起身告辞,身体都有点僵直了,谢过了她的水。她对我在此小坐表示感谢。然后我就回家了。

这次停站花去了我什么?许多东西。时间就是金钱,金钱就是时间。我错过了“新闻60分”,还有几个电话没打成。

我得到了什么?没什么。我认为安也是这么想的。我们没有解决当前国计民生、道德和环境的危机问题,甚至都没有在该是理想的还是现实的面对它们这问题上达成一致。

但是,我很高兴我停下来了,而且她也邀请我过去,还有我们交谈了。

这种回报是无法和半小时一期的新闻资讯抨击相比较的,同样也不能用事业上的发展来衡量。这不会增加我们孩子考上大学的几率,也不会帮助喂猫、浇花、呼叫修理工、打扫车道、修理汽车或者是粉刷门厅。

我们仅仅是“努力地”在一个慢行的队列中扮演好我们的角色。这个队列叫邻里关系。

在处好邻里关系的过程中,一个更为正式的要素是街区派对。这二者是相互联系的。

我们搬进来那年,在一街之隔的洪堡特林荫大道上参加了一个街区聚会,这也是对于我们加入这个社区的欢迎。那是十五年前了,直接我们依旧很喜欢参加这个聚会。

开始那会儿,洪堡特林荫大道邀请函都是手写的,由小不点凯伦和怀特家的小孩们分送到各户。如今,邀请函时激光打印,有大块头凯伦和怀特家的小孩们分送。但规矩还是一样的:吃喝自备,提供烧烤架(如果能借来足够的)。大家在一旁就着烧烤喝啤酒,结识新朋友,不忘老邻居。这是一种很不错的方式。现在各处住户都不会再陌生了。

近十年来,考虑到邻街给我们带来的实惠,我一直在提倡着在本街区也弄个派对。

感谢洪堡特林荫大道,我也学会了一点必要的程序。

1)、打电话给市政人员。在确定好日期的两周前,就申请一个“街区活动”的许可,同时附上一份签名书,由可能受影响的住户中的四分之三以上签字同意。活动那天一早,市政部门就会放置好路障,切断这条街上的车流,第二天一早再撤走;

2)、给受邀请的街区派发传单,写明活动举行的街道名、位置、时间、费用(如果有的话)、食物类型以及如果下雨的延期时间;

3)、准备好足够的餐盘;

4)、应邀到场。

第四条往往是最难办到的。比起邻里活动,我们所有人都有更重要的事情占用着时间,比如工作和学业,以及用来逃避工作和学业的假期。

千真万确。所以你不得不缺席。但是如果你要来,那么尽量每年都参加吧。

因为这种“不重要的事“在逐渐地让我们的社区变得更好,如同交通银行里的存款一样。这些存款以归属感和地域的形式支付着可观的利息。

我确信这些回报是终生受用的。因此,我对每一个搬到新环境里面的人有一个建议,如果这四周都是私人住房,那么立刻开始参加这种派对;或是在公寓举行一个“楼层聚会”或“公寓聚会”。我的母亲在她那位于佛罗里达州的退休公寓里举办了这样一次派对,出乎意料的好。这现在每年都会举办,也是住在她那楼上的人互相慢慢认识的唯一机会。

今年我们社区终于举办了自己的派对。我纸上谈兵谈了几年了,而最后付诸实践的是狼妈妈。

我们的派对圆满吗?

恩,定好的那天是那两周内唯一预报会暴雨如注的日子。这并不出乎狼妈妈的意料。她应该出去当一个祈雨师。只要她安排一个户外活动,天公就必不作美。不过,那天实际上只下了蒙蒙细雨。

大家都赴约了吗?是的。人来的挺多。从附近街区来的,至少有一半是生面孔。

我们玩的高兴吗?如同所有的聚会一样,时间一晃而过,而我只来得及和新邻居中的少数人说说话。有一位老熟人,在邻街住了一年多了,而我一直不知道。

我们还会再聚吗?当然。很明显的事情。一个街区聚会?小菜一碟。明年我们会“重打锣鼓新开张”的。

谢谢你,凯伦一家与怀特一家,谢谢十五年前邀请我们。谢谢你,狼妈妈,你最终让这街区聚会得以举办。

现在谁会在你的街区举办聚会呢?以后,当你步行穿过居住的社区,有累又乏且孤独的时候,你在经过的每一间房子时,都有机会与别人真诚的交流。所以你可以透过屏帐说:“你好啊,安。”同样,你也会得到一个熟知的微笑。

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