Monday, September 6, 2010

The goat hill parent association

There is something special about our neighborhood. No, it doesn't actually have goats these days, I'm giving it a pseudonym, since it's original name was apparently goat hill. given the popularity of urban chickens I would not be surprised if a backyard goat or two show up before long, mind you. What the neighborhood has is an incredible parents group. Ten or fifteen years ago a few parents banded together and formed it. Back then it was a physical group, with organized meetings, but the organizers also formed an email list serve, and what the group has evolved into is an online community of several hundred members. Someone posts to the group almost every day. A request for a nanny or babysitter, the loan of a pack n play or air mattress for visitors, the offer of toys or gear for sale, a request for a recommendation for a doctor, or a plumber, or a doula. A cry for help with a colicky baby or tantruming toddler, or ideas for gluten free birthday cake recipes or environmentally sound sunscreens, or the loan of a copy of "birthing from within". In response, and many people respond with thoughtful detailed posts, we always sign off with our name, and the names and ages of our kids.

The virtual group fosters a real community. In the playground I've been approached when overheard calling my childrens names. "are you geekygirls mum? I really appreciated your advice about picky eaters". I ran into a woman recently who I bought an exersaucer off a couple of years ago, and I have formed great friendships, initiated by an email.

I was inspired to write about the group today, at the end of a lovely labor day weekend spent towing the kids back and forth from the lake in an almost new double bike trailer. On Friday a parent has posted that she wanted to sell one. I'd not been able to justify the expense of a new one, though had been eyeing them with envy all summer, so I called back quickly and picked it up that night. I'd forgotten what an excellent and enjoyable mode of transportation bicycling is. The children loved it, and decided that it was a fine stage for a duet performance of 'slippery fish.' The thirty minute walk to the beach became a mere ten minute spin with the wind in my helmet and the kids sweet voices behind me.

Biking is good for thinking, and as I pumped sixty pounds of child back home again I realized how fortunate we are in our community. I think it is a little bit special, a modern take on village spirit. In the middle of a dense urban city strangers reach out to each other, share resources and form an intangible web of support. Every community should have one.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone on I80.