I live in a tiny little cul-de-sac really close to Dublin city center. With just 26 small cottages standing in neat rows on either side of a tight road the street I live on has a very old-fashioned feel to it. The wooden doors are painted in different colours, red and black dominating, and big bold door-knockers await to signal visitors. These houses were built around 1904 and have housed many families, couples, older people and singles like myself. But the really special thing about this place is the community spirit that seems to live on the road too.
Neighbours do still stop and chat or borrow milk, eggs and even bin tags (a Dublin bin collecting scheme) from each other and children play ball, ride their bikes and generally just seem to run up and down the street. Every now and then a group of us will meet up in someones home, drink tea, wine and eat sandwiches or cake while chatting about this, that and not really anything too important.
Yesterday we brought out our brooms, rubber gloves and black bags to tackle the rubbish on our street. We do this once a year in an attempt to battle the city and its debris, pull out the weeds that grow in gutters, pavement crevices and pick up all the liter that dances around on windy days. Unlucky for us it started to rain but we made the best of it and had fun together, the kids joined in with their little plastic shovels, brightly coloured wellies and loving the action on the road.
It was a great atmosphere and it got me thinking about how important it is to have good community spirit. When children grow up in a place where they can feel safe indoors and out, it makes a big difference in how they learn to interact with people of all ages. And if neighbours look out for one another and help out when needed, it cements trust at the lowest level of our society. If the small communities work, the bigger ones will too, as it then is no longer about THEM but about US.
As we stood piling up the black bags we decided to get white paint and brighten up the wall at the end of the road and do some planting for the summer. It was as if everyone wanted to display how much they enjoyed living in this special little street, tenets and homeowners alike. And I personally can’t wait for the sun to come out and our street to look as beautiful as it feels living here.