Ruah Swennerfelt

By Ruah Swennerfelt

I live in East Charlotte, the far southeast corner where a small group of homes has been built and inhabited over several decades. Early on, there was a concerted effort to create a well-connected neighborhood with summer celebrations, potlucks and fun. The outcome of those efforts is a place where neighbors know one another, help each other, and check in with each other on a regular basis. And this was way before the coronavirus came into our lives.

Louis and I lived off-grid for a couple of decades, and when the ice storm hit we were the house that still had electricity. So neighbors came to take showers, watch a movie, or just hang out. Now, in the time of coronavirus, we are shopping for one another, picking up orders for take-out meals to help support local restaurants, taking walks (with the required six-foot separation), talking on the phone, and having Zoom chats to help stay connected. For those who live alone, this can be a great lifeline. We’re also a bit of an aging group, so we can make sure everyone is safe and healthy. I feel blessed to be surrounded by these loving neighbors.

I’ve been active with the Transition Town Movement, both locally and nationally, whose emphasis is on supporting healthy and happy neighborhoods. I’ve been very influenced by the rightness of this effort. It includes creating a strong local economy, weaning ourselves from over-consumption, caring about our effects on the environment, and searching for ways to reduce our carbon footprints. So it seems so natural and right to live in a neighborhood where we know each other well, are welcome in each other’s homes, and where we care enough to help out when help is needed.

I hope everyone can create such a place. All it takes is a phone call to begin that journey.