Where We Live

Prospect Heights, BrooklynJust returned from a weekend in Brooklyn where we helped TBC move her stuff into her first NYC home.  I say “first” because already she’s mentioned where she might like to live next.  This was an interesting theme in weekend conversations – both our own and the conversations of others.

FBC has a plan to move into a different neighborhood next year.  SBC will be looking for a new place next month – maybe something closer to shops and restaurants.

Standing in the bagel line, walking down the sidewalk, sipping coffee on a bench everybody seemed to be talking about The Next Place They Hope To Live.  This is NYC – expensive NYC.  People were talking about rent-control and safe streets and proximity to Vanderbilt Avenue.  They mentioned Dream Apartments with rooftop space and central air and – is it even possible? – a washer/dryer in the building.

I came home to a freshly mowed yard that could fit a tennis court and a pool and a horseshoe pit but it’s farther out into Chicagoland than I would like.  But it’s great.

I mentioned this phenomenon of constantly talking about housing in Brooklyn with TBS’s friend M who is a native New Yorker. “Yeah, that’s a thing here. But there’s no such thing as the perfect apartment.”

Where We Live makes all the difference in the world.  Whether we live in a place where you can hear bullets all night or not determines our sensibilities as does living in a place with pristine sidewalks versus a place where a neighbor sweeps the garbage to the curb each morning.  But Where We Live often determines what kind of neighbor we are/what kind of neighbor is needed.

  • In a neighborhood with neat fences and landscaping, are we the kind of neighbor who reaches out to meet the people who live behind those freshly painted doors?
  • In a neighborhood with trash on the sidewalk, do we take our turn doing the sweeping?
  • In a neighborhood with kids riding scooters on the sidewalk, do we know their names and look out for them?
  • In a neighborhood with homeless people, do we ask if they’d like to join us for breakfast?

Missional church starts where we live.  I could be a much better neighbor.  I could be much better at even knowing my neighborhood.  How about you?

Image of apartment building in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

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2 responses to “Where We Live

  1. I think about this a lot as I often daydream about moving back to my home state due to closer proximity to family. When we were looking at houses to buy, we considered not only “a nice neighborhood”, but also how easily we would be able to resell if/when the time came. It seems that housing thoughts occupy the thoughts of those beyond NYC.

  2. I live in Pittsburgh. We live in the city. My kids walk a mile to school without direct adult supervision (the neighbors give me updates on their mischief during their walks!). I know my neighbors or at least the names of their dogs. I host ice cream socials on my front yard – I have five cartons of ice cream, a scoop, cones and a full freezer – so everyone gets some because it isn’t fitting inside anywhere! My neighbors want bigger houses, bigger yards … but they love the people who are right here right now. How to do that? Plant your garden in your front yard and plant something outrageous like 15 foot sunflowers or 400 pound pumpkins and then say hello to EVERYONE who walks by. Most people are lonely and happy to talk back.

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