Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Greek to me

I live in Montlake, a small neighborhood just south of the University of Washington. A lovely, well-heeled neighborhood that sports rows of Tudor homes nestled together like a hamlet of old. Montlake is a quiet neighborhood except for one weekend in September! Every year, Montlake comes alive for the annual Saint Demetrios Greek Festival. People are bustling by, cars are jocking for spots, and the air is filled with delightful Greek music and the smell of slow roasted lamb.

Saint Demetrios Church in Montlake
It's an annual event for our family. I look forward to it like a kid does to Christmas - not because I am Greek, no, because I don't have to cook from Friday night through the weekend....and living in Montlake, I don't have to circle the neighborhood, waiting for a spot to open up. My girls can just walk down, grab a souvlaki, catch up with friends and come back home...baklava in hand!

It just doesn't get any better than this baklava!

It was over that baklava (ok, it was over a few) and a Greek coffee that I reflected on the value of community events and a strong neighborhood. I love seeing my neighbors in the beer garden, sitting together enjoying the Greek dancers, signing up for a tour of the church, or just out on their front porch watching the buzz!

I believe a sense of community in a neighborhood is all about the little things - like waving to residents, talking over the fences with them, watching out for one another (which requires knowing a little bit more about them than what color car they drive), and even things like saying "hi" at this annual gathering place. Community events provide an atmosphere that foster relationships with your neighbor without having to invite them into your home.

We have moved away from having a sense of connection in out neighborhoods to a pervading sense of isolation. It's as if we bought into the notion that life is better when we keep to ourselves.  But how is our isolation honestly working out for us? Is it better for our families? Have our neighborhoods improved over recent years? Are we safer and more secure? Are we happier?

With a growing sense of disconnection in our society, revitalizing elements of traditional neighborhood events can be very powerful for establishing a deeper sense of community in our neighborhoods. If we have a place to go, an event that pulls us together, it's more likely that connection will emerge.

It's amazing to think that how we construct things (like creating community events) can actually prod us to build relationships with others, and in turn produce a stronger community - one that not only has pretty houses, but has connected residents. The most important thing is to be intentional in small ways about building relationships with people.

If we want to be more connected in our communities and avoid the plague of isolation, then our posture must be to do something and get outside more often. Our community grows stronger when we do practical things like wave to neighbors, let the kids play in the front yard, invite a family over for coffee, meet new residents when they move in, take regular walks around the block, or even do something very easy - attend the Greek Festival this weekend.

I hope to see you there!

In all my postings, my goal is to provide inspiration and insight into home ownership, real estate, and to provide valuable resources.

la chasse au bonheur


  1. Hope you have enjoyed the weekend of Greek Fest 2010! Made it there with friends on Saturday evening. Guess we should have swung by the house and said Hi!
    - Bryan B.

  2. I would have loved that! What a beautiful day Saturday....hope you are well...Cheers, Darcy

  3. Being new to the Montlake neighborhood, I loved discovering the Greek festival -- right across the street! On Thursday evening festival organizers left delicious desserts on our front steps -- a "Thank you" bribe for the fact that we wouldn't be able to park in front of our house for three days! We loved the desserts, and were grateful for our carport.

    I took my kids to the festival Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with friends joining us on Sat. and Sun. What a really great event! I'm sorry it only happens once a year. I agree with you, Darcy, that community-building vs. isolationism wins every time!

    Janet Walsh