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Friday, July 18, 2008

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

Or the View From the Beach

Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood,In your neighborhood, in your neighborhood.Say who are the people in your neighborhood--The people that you meet each day? ~Jeffery Moss

It was my understanding that when the In Your Neighborhood blog spot was conceived of by the TNT its purpose was to inform readers of what was happening in the various neighborhoods that make up the South Puget Sound Area. Very quickly it became something greater than that. It became a neighborhood itself. This e-neighborhood has become a venue for the sharing of ideas and stories, some frivolous and fun, some of grave importance not only to our neighborhood, but to the nation as well.

A good neighborhood is a collection of diverse individuals and families who care about the community as a whole. Not everyone in a neighborhood always agrees all of the time, but good neighbors support each other with respect and tolerance for the diversity of ideas that make up the world. The In Your Neighborhood blog spot is just such a neighborhood. We laugh, argue, and rejoice with one another.

I feel privileged to be a part of a neighborhood inhabited by so many talented and caring people. More than once I’ve called on the Neighborhood to turn on the mojo and I’ve felt the power surging through the ether. Through the magic of this little contraption called a computer my neighborhood has been increased many fold and enriched.

Kim, young and energetic, reminds us of how amazing Tacoma is and keeps us dancing to a Gritty tune. Patty’s enthusiasm for life shows in her writing and her emails reminding us that she cares. Jaynie shines a light on stories great and small that might otherwise escape our notice. VW’s whit and point of view alternately has me rolling on the floor in gales of laughter and pulling out my hair, adding texture and layers to the conversation and he’s been too long absent from the ‘hood. Tracy keeps us informed of what’s happening in the hinterland out there toward our beloved mountain. Mizu enriches our lives with her art and family stories and her thoughtful quiet way brings a special grace to our neighborhood. Lorraine, sweet Lorraine (this is where you have to imagine I can insert a YouTube of Frank Sinatra), brings us music, balance, keeps us safe from the wee buggies and occasionally shares glimpses of her remarkable life. And Joseph. Joseph keeps us real, reminding us that love is all we need, that "we all need someone to lean on."

Today I reached out to Joseph via cyber space and he did me a huge favor. At ten thirty last night my phone rang here in Ilwaco. It was a dear friend in Gig Harbor phoning to say that in a few hours she was going to have a triple by-pass. A life-long diabetic who is losing her sight, she also has difficulty tolerating anesthesia and nearly died from a previous surgery. She was calling to say goodbye, just in case. She told me she felt lucky to have lived with her disease for forty-plus years and that regardless what happened everything would be fine. This amazing little woman wanted a family and so against doctors advice had two sons who are nearly grown. When her sister died she took in her niece to keep her out of the foster care system. I felt like she still has work to do.

I went to bed praying that she’d survive the surgery and see her children to adulthood. Being 150 miles away when someone you love is ill is hard although I know my being there would not make anything any better. Then I remembered where my friend was. St. Joseph’s. I emailed Joseph, St. Joseph's chaplin and Blog Squad member, and asked him if he had time to look in on my friend. It was a long surgery. Beginning at 8 AM, she did not come out of surgery until 3 PM. Joseph was not able to see her because she was still unconscious, but he emailed me and that was all I needed—to know that she survived the surgery. That simple act of finding out that she survived the surgery sent relief surging through my body.

Whatever the TNT envisioned for the In Your Neighborhood blog, it has become a neighborhood unto itself. A place where we share ideas and stories, are listened to and validated and, yes, sometimes disagreed with. We are a palette of colors that paint the South Sound.


Jaynie Jones said...

What an elegant synopsis of what our 'neighborhood' has become!

Joseph is a treasured friend to each of us. His hospital ministry has been a blessing to our family, too, as he makes a point of visiting my husband's mother during her dialysis treatments. She loves him as if he were her own son.

Joseph also prayed for us this past week as we were facing what appeared to be an insurmountable situation that was crushing the life out of us. Voila! A miracle, an absolute miracle happened.

I am praying for your friend's complete recovery. Keep us posted on how she is doing.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Joseph is a peach and the Neighborhood a wonderful community to share our time and talent.

I doubt if enriching lives was the intention of the TNT, but In Your Neighborhood has enriched my life.

Kim Thompson said...

Stephanie, this post made me misty!

Thanks for your kind words for all of us. Also, thanks needs to go out to YOU! Thank you for highlighting the beauty and magic of local area, in and beyond our immediate South Sound. Thank you for reminding us about the essence and love of family and friends. Thank you for your thoughtful responses and comments for all that we write. Thanks for pondering the big questions, speaking your mind, and being fair and honest.

We have all created this amazing, supportive,and groovy community. That is something to rejoice in! I feel lucky and blessed to be a part of it!

Oh, and I dug your pic of Sesame Street. Took my back to my 70's childhood!

Stephanie Frieze said...

Kim, I was so relieved to receive Joseph's email when I got home from an afternoon of shopping that the Sesame Street song kept humming in my mind all evening. I feel lucky to have such a lovely Neighborhood!

Lorraine Hart said...

So it seems communication is what makes a community, starting with basic manners in the public forum. Everyone given space and support, whether agreeing or disagreeing, like neighbours with good fences...and welcoming doors. Respecting, listening and responding to our neighbours seems to lead to the "Love Thy Neighbour" bit!

The rallying cry has always come from our beloved brother KEEP IT REAL...and his bottomless pool of compassion does just that. Stephanie, I'm so glad he was able to ease your heart and mind about your friend.

I signed-on, initially, to exercise the writer...not knowing it would lead to such friendships, dances of diplomacy, and yes, more of a connection to this most beautiful part of the country.

Core groups like this have learned to moderate without being given moderators...because we believe moderation is necessary for communities to go forward, to not collapse while pulling in every direction.

I think it is an important discussion to have as newspapers go through this wobbly time between print and cyberspace. Newspapers that set up blogs but back away from any involvement in them (believing they will "police themselves" as was recently written in editorial comments) leave themselves behind eventually.

We've had discussions about this, outside of the public forum, because we really believe in (and want to work for) the News Tribune...beyond the print, if that is what the future is. Our local newspaper is a beloved part of our community and we're doing our best for the TNT.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Did I mention that Lorraine always clarifies and says exactly what I'm thinking? She has made me grow as a writer and as a person and it is a great comfort that she's at the other end of the Internet, guiding the spiritaul as well as the literary path.

VW said...

I'm still here. I kind of took a break. I still read everyone's entries as they are posted and enjoy them immensely.

I am readying an entry for posting this evening.

Keep on writing!


Stephanie Frieze said...

Hey, welcome back.