As we look forward to the holidays, my thoughts turn to how fortunate we are to live in such a caring and beautiful community. What makes our neighborhoods and community so special? We are more than a collection of houses planted side by side on a street. Clayton is a place where people connect with each other.
Residents know who’s who and recognize familiar faces. We embrace our commonalities and appreciate our diversities. We share events of the day, celebrations and sorrows. Whether we form close friendships or remain casual acquaintances, we are bonded with each other in this beautiful space.
Historically, town streets were one or two lanes wide and laid out on a grid. There were frequent cross streets and paths providing access to anywhere one needed to go. Houses were built with large front porches. Garages were less prominent. Kids played together in the front yards or in a nearby field.
Over the years our lives have become busier and our work takes us further from home. Kids play their games at regional sports fields. We enter and leave through attached garages instead of front doors. We may go days or weeks without even seeing our next-door neighbors. It’s easy to feel less connected to each other.
While the physical environment has evolved, it’s still our residents who make our community special. School, church activities, scouting, youth sports, service groups and local events bring people together around common interests. In Clayton, volunteers run our local July 4th Parades, Art & Wine Festival, Okoberfest and summer Concerts in The Grove, which are sources of civic pride and city-wide community. Bringing that sense of connection to a neighborhood with people of different ages, occupations, schedules and interests requires motivation and enterprise.
Neighborhood groups can meet in groups to walk together, meet in a driveway for block parties or BBQs. National Night Out gets our neighborhoods together in August to exchange contact information and talk about Neighborhood Watch. Fall activities and winter holidays offer occasions for neighborhoods to gather for parties or potluck suppers.
Our neighborhood tries to gather several times a year. We chat about how the kids have grown, who’s in what class at school, about work and sports, who needs help in the neighborhood and how we can help. It’s only a few hours, but everyone leaves feeling closer and more connected.
Last month, we carved pumpkins together. December brings the cookie decorating contest, where everyone competes for bragging rights. The spring egg hunt is another group activity and there are smaller get-togethers throughout the year. What does your neighborhood do together?
On Dec. 7, at 6 p.m., our community will again gather in The Grove. The children’s choir will sing and we’ll welcome Santa to light our tree. Traditions like these build our community and make Clayton such a special place to live.
As always, you can reach me at JPierce@ci.clayton.ca.us. Let me know what you think.