Sharing Space: Creating Community in your Cul-de-Sac

Hiking up the “hidden staircases” of Los Angeles, I realized I was looking into the lives of all the people whose homes and backyards butt up against public property – all while an iPhone app tour guide led us to eavesdrop on neighbors’ daily life and dinner plans.

Phone app voice: “As you walk up the ‘Music Box Staircase,’ pause to read the plaque that references the Laurel and Hardy film in which they delivered a piano (aka ‘music box’) to the top of these stairs.” Woman in kitchen mid-way up stairs – “We’re having chicken tonight. I don’t care if you’re tired of it.”

Living in the close quarters of a city creates community, whether you like it or not.  But if you purposely want to enhance your backyard living, but don’t have the space, Modern Farmer suggests you team with your neighbors to share and grow a bigger, better, community yard. Perhaps one house has the fantastic grill, fire pit, and picnic area? While another has the perfect light to grow the garden that adds tomatoes, lettuces, and peppers to the BBQ? In a piece titled “How to Design a Shared Backyard,” Virginia C. McGuire talks tools – what to own, what to share, where to plant a well-lit community garden, and how to navigate the risks of sharing and swapping time, money, and effort.

One of my friends lives in a dreamy neighborhood in Long Beach where the kids run between houses, and parents count on each other to keep track of their limbs, bikes, and bruises.  Do you live in a space-sharing neighborhood?  Are you trying to create more community in your cul-de-sac?  We’d love to hear your ideas of growing  greener and friendlier plots of land in your area.  Start a conversation here in our comment section, or on Twitter @RebeccaSnavely and @TheCityFarm.

And if you have a croquet set and yard, I’m moving in.