What Community and Good Neighbors Are All About

Written by Bette Dewing on . Posted in Dewing Things Better, Opinion and Column, Opinion Our Town, Opinion West Side Spirit, Our Town, West Side Spirit.



Bette Dewing

Not only in a dangerously hot summer

I could just cry, and indeed I did, when the hearty little plant that had sprung up this past spring in the otherwise bare tree pit outside my window was suddenly gone, yanked up by workers who were exchanging bark shavings there for some sort of soil. “Where there’s no vision…”

This column is also about crucial heat wave needs and, of course, about the death of Andy Griffith, so don’t tune out because you agree with a gardener neighbor that I shouldn’t mourn a plant that was “just a weed”—no matter that its seed chose to make its home in this otherwise arid tree pit and proceeded to add life and good cheer to the concrete streetscape. Doggone it, it was alive and thriving and deserved a long life!

“And it survived many obstacles—like nearby auto fumes,” was Robert Nicholas’ empathic response. Ellie Sankey also understood this loss; “Even a blade of grass is precious.” So did Jose Temprano, who prefers unmanicured lawns, which include weedy-type greenery.
Ah, response, it can so make or break a day, or a life, or a culture—and the tactless kind is better than no response. Wouldn’t you vote for anyone who made communications skills learning a cradle-to-grave top priority?

Nowadays, the conflict-resolution kind of communication should take center stage, and any cussin’ would be according to Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry’s rule book. “Doggone it” is okay.

Wouldn’t you vote for anyone who wants nice guys like Andy to finish first and foremost—and again be role-modeled in media that so shape customs and views?

But this brutally hot summer is not a hot media topic, especially things like East 79th Street Neighborhood Association tree expert Christine Donavan’s urgent concern to “Water those street trees!”

And when an elected official’s aide at the July meeting offers “free air conditioners for the qualified,” this advocacy columnist could kick herself for not saying, “Very good, but some abodes lack adequate wiring, and air conditioners are costly to run. What’s needed most are able-bodied citizens looking out for—looking after—the many vulnerable ones, especially, but not only, in this dangerously hot summer !”

Andy, Aunt Bea and Opie would undoubtedly say, “And that’s what community and good neighbors are all about!”

dewingbetter@aol.com

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