Love Your Neighbor(hood)

I was enjoying the breeze in my sunroom the other day when I heard the sound of a lone trumpet playing in the alley. I live right off Cherokee St, our neighborhood's business district and cultural hub. The Fortune Teller Bar and Art Monster Tattoo share my alley, making for all sorts of interesting conversations at the dumpster.

I was struck by how much love I have for this place, Benton Park West, a little neighborhood in South City, St Louis. We try to teach our dwellers to know and love their neighbors, and I think the natural progression is to begin loving their neighborhood. It's gritty and sometimes loud and even tense. But it's also diverse and full of beauty and charm. I asked our dwellers what they love about Benton Park West.

  • I love the diversity and Jennifer and Kamiya (my next door neighbors - there is never a dull moment with them around).  I enjoy talking to Joe across the street and seeing Marlow once in awhile.  I love Grove East Provisions especially the BLT made on his fresh made bread.  I love getting together with Temple House people on Sunday nights.  Wish I could be with them more because its always a good time. I love the flower gardens that are scattered about in the neighborhood and I love the two sycamore trees in front of the house that remind me I'm home.
  • I love its big old trees.
  • I love the quirky Cherokee St community.
  • I love how diverse BPW is. It's not LA diversity but it is one of St. Louis's most racially diverse neighborhoods. In addition, Cherokee street is one of my favorite parts of the city. It's easily one of the oolest streets in town. Everything from coffee shops to art galleries, bars, bakeries, clothing stores, taquerias and thrift shops, Cherokee street is always a number one spot to lounge with out of town guest or locals. And I especially love those random but frequent moments where you run into neighbors, colleagues, or youth that you work with, just going about their day or having really fun time on Cherokee Street. 
  • I love that it's small enough to know each other and care for each other.
  • I love hearing kids giggle and play outside.
  • I love chatting with neighbors at Food Pantry every week.

I was at a conference last week that focused on being rooted and embedded in a place. I think if we're going to see God's mission realized in our world, faithfully living out reconciliation in our neighborhoods seems like a good place to start. That's a whole other blog post!

What do you love about your neighborhood?