I live in a “one-anothering” town. I didn’t even know places like this existed until I moved here from southeast Michigan twenty-two years ago. I remember my first impressions, fresh out of high school.
“What is this place?”
It felt a bit Mayberry but I truly didn’t mind, even as a teenager. I welcomed the new start for a dozen different reasons. Lord knows I needed a clean slate.
Fast forward two decades and the community has only grown richer and brighter. I am certainly one of Siloam Springs biggest fans, and find any drawbacks significantly dwarfed by the benefits. It’s the quintessential sweet small town: the kind you return to after leaving, to start and raise a family; or the kind you call home, no matter where your feet lead you off to.
What makes it sweet?
The people do.
It’s the neighbors who leave goodies on your doorstep, and keep watch over your house while you’re out of town; who wave at you coming and going; who carpool and make possible the heavy traffic of life; who oversee kiddos in yards and send smiles when they see them. These are our neighbors. These are the people who know the schedules and rhythms of our daily lives. We share our waking ups and turning ins. We crossover each other’s lives and it’s a good thing, this one-anothering.
Thirteen years ago we purchased an old house with good bones on a main street. It was more than enough house for our growing family. We purchased the home at a steal of a deal, which was exactly what we needed at that time. She still needs a lot of TLC but it’s a process, as most things are. In the midst of that process we’ve labored through three childbirths in this home, with one child delivered on the living room floor. I have given much of myself to this house, and it’s given back to me a million memorable moments. The land has given me food and provisions of many sorts. It’s yielded to me a patch of Eden, in the heart of the town I am so fond of. I love my home, my space, and my neighbors. It has not been without issue, however.
Our little square of community is facing a big (unwanted) change. The lot and home north of us are requesting a rezoning, to accommodate multi-family housing. Nine units, to be specific. I can’t begin to tell you how grievous this is to our hearts, but here I go.
Firstly, the current and long-standing tenants have unquestionably challenged the grace and patience of all whom surround. It’s difficult to one-another when only considering oneself. Common good must be what we have in common. Unfortunately, this has not been the case here. I have secretly wished a dozen different scenarios and outcomes for that property, but none like what is being proposed. I project it will only add to the issues our neighborhood already battles: noise, heavy traffic, narrow roads, unkempt property, safety, and privacy. Inside each of these issues can be sited a handful of examples supporting such. Our little city block is not okay with the proposed change. We do not feel it benefits all, but rather one, and to the detriment of those who have established lives and family nearby. We do not live exclusive to each other. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, mostly. I want to do better.
As affected residents, we have been encouraged to voice our concerns, and have done so unapologetically. It’s been quite a rally already, with city meetings and neighborhood efforts. We are all each others’ keepers, even if we do it weakly. I hope to do a better job of this as I mature. I bet we all can grow in this: as a block, as a community, as a city, as a people. I don’t think I even realized how fiercely I felt for my neighborhood until it was put at risk of more struggle. We have purposed to tow the line and not back down, believing in the greater and common good of all.
If there is truly power in numbers, I think we are pretty mighty, and I’m proud to be a part of those who are standing for and with each other. It really has been a beautiful effort, and I suppose I am richer for the wear. No matter the outcome, I am confident of this: Siloam Springs has incredible human beings doing life within it, and I’m blessed to know so many.