I passed this lovely little “free library” while walking from Watertown Toyota to the church today. It made me think of my mom.
My mother had a natural gift for connecting people. And she took it for granted that neighbors should know one another. After her funeral, the man who had purchased the house where we used to live told me that when he and his family moved in, my mother made him the Keeper of the List. She handed him a list of everyone who lived in all the houses in the neighborhood, with phone numbers for all. He was charged with keeping the list updated and distributing it annually.
Robert Putnam (In “Bowling Alone”) and other sociologists tell us that stuff like this blesses us with “social capital.” People who sit on their front porches and build little free libraries on the curb are healthier and happier. Connecting sometimes feels tricky. But when we do it — when we’re “bowling together” — everything is better.
Life, and most neighborhoods, are more complicated now than when I grew up in a cozy suburb in the 70s. But there are lots of excellent ways people are connecting with others around Watertown. Check out LiveWell Watertown. Join Freecycle Watertown or Nextdoor Watertown. Get a block party grant from Watertown Community Foundation. Come to my church or any of the other great faith communities in the town, where people are connecting over coffee, sorting treasures for a yard sale, or sorting donations for a food pantry or shelter.
What are your ideas for building delight, connection, and a sharing economy in town?