Jan 5·edited Jan 5Liked by Leah Libresco Sargeant

I love that line from Eve: “Real communities are made of the duties you accept toward the people you wouldn’t have chosen to live with.” We’ve had a big blizzard here in the Twin Cities, and it’s a beautiful thing how neighbors have helped neighbors. I almost cried coming back from the hospital with the kiddo when I saw our neighbor across the alley had plowed out our garage!

That sense of community is also why I’ve always wanted to move back here. I think it’s very hard to disentangle great family policy (including tons of playgrounds, good schools, a penchant for long term thinking) and a thriving civic society (highest voter turnout, tons of democratic associations) from a strong ever present sense of genuine love for your neighbor. And vice versa!

On my reading list this year:

We Do This Till We Free Us by Mariame Kaba

America is Not The Heart by Elaine Castillo

Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power by Amy Sonnie

Time to Parent by Julie Morgenstern

Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

Nine Days by Paul Kendrick

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Jan 5·edited Jan 5Liked by Leah Libresco Sargeant

Yes, I loved those first two essays! And I have truly enjoyed many of Addison Del Mastro (mentioned in the bus essay)'s posts on his Deleted Scenes substack. It reminded me of this related piece over at Strong Towns (where he has also written):


"There's a class dimension here. Public life is a leveler, but it's also a divider between those who can choose to opt out of it and those who cannot. It's no coincidence to me that on a sunny Saturday afternoon in my city's poorest neighborhood, you will see dozens of people hanging out on streets and sidewalks, front porches and patios and stoops. In my city's richest neighborhood on a similar day, you'll be lucky to run into five people."

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I think conversely to Eve's article, the road to hell is paved with innocuous decisions centered in individualism. Reading Marthas comments on the blizzard reminded me of a recent conversation i had with a friend as we lamented several former Christians in our circle choosing polyamory. I said, "its not just that the choice is morally wrong, its also taking individualism to a whole new level. You can't worry about shoveling your neighbors walk if you're married+ dating+ parenting." That is an extreme case, much more than choosing to drive instead of taking the bus, but the idea that we each live in a hyper private cilo of our own creation leaves little space to bump into, let alone know or accompany, those with need or those that arent meeting our needs. Add to that curating all of our relationships for our own comfort and pleasure and soon we've stripped out any space for a disruptive inbreaking of the kin-dom! Ultimately im convicted that resistance to a pleasure and ease addicted society demands "fasting" to cultivate virtue, and bus riding seems like a fine fast to help us resist much greater temptations in the realm of individualism.

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Jan 5·edited Jan 5

How do I begin? Please excuse me if this becomes a rant.

This whole question of being in public, in the buses and on the sidewalks.

We just moved from a crowded big urban environment in the Northeast to a small city in the mountain South. We've gone from having buses and trains to having fewer buses, no trains, and having to rely on cars.

It's a pleasure not to be in public. It's an introvert thing. I never liked being seen in public, with so many people around in a crowded city. I stopped using the trains before we moved away, because they became dangerous once the pandemic erupted. But I admit, I was glad to take the buses. The buses were calm, quiet, and not crowded during the times I took them.

But beyond that, the people in my old neighborhood, what did being in public mean? It meant we had to hear their loud music and their yelling and screaming. Then we had to clean up their litter in front of our yard lest we got a ticket. They had no conscientiousness of the importance of a clean environment. Maybe that's a class thing.

In our new neighborhood, the streets are empty and pristine. We couldn't be happier. We might see a few elderly neighbors on the street walking for exercise. We wave hello to them when we go out driving. An elderly neighbor came by to say hello a few weeks ago to welcome us to the neighborhood. It was good to chat with her. That's community to me.

Beyond that, I'd be happy to drive the mile it takes to go to church and chat with other neighbors. Then I joined the Friends of the Library. I look forward to going to meetings.

We had to go to a government agency today. The website wasn't helpful and calling would have put us on hold forever. While we were there, we saw a woman who kept going up to stand next to the windows where people were talking to the agency staff, within sufficient earshot to hear them discussing their business.

I had been on a phone call but joined my husband when it was his turn. I stared the woman down but didn't say a word. What on earth was she doing there? She sat down. After we were done, she spoke to the clerk who told her to get a number.

For all I know, she might do this every day. But still, another downside to being in public.

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