Community Service

My house is in a community that doesn’t have an HOA.  This, in most all cases, is pretty good.  Overall, there aren’t a lot of bad folks around, with cars on blocks in the front yard and terrible senses of aesthetics.  But, not having an HOA means we have to take care of each other, and in today’s modern world, that is a very hard sentiment to come by.  I’ll admit, I am on a conversational level with only two of my neighbors and on a wave/greeting level with one other.  That’s pretty lame.  But, I’m hoping to improve on that shortcoming this year.  One of the key ways of doing this is being outside and having opportunities to talk to them.

Our street has a shared mail cabinet with boxes for each household.  I’m not sure who’s supposed to take care of this unit.  Is the Post Office supposed to?  I’ve never seen it cleaned.  Over the years it has gotten pretty disgusting, with algae and lichen on it.  Well, see for yourself.

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Since I wanted to become more involved in my community and also because I was sick of seeing the mailbox in this condition, I set to work on it.  After work one day, I filled a bucket with water and scrub sponges, got a spray bottle of Simple Green and a plastic scraper, then went out to the mailbox.

I scraped and scrubbed for quite a while.  A couple of cars came up to get their mail.  I got one enthusiastic thank you for the job I was doing.  I guess that should be enough.  The important part is that every time someone gets their mail, they will look at a nice clean mailbox.  If it doesn’t inspire some sort of community pride to see an improvement like that, at least it won’t instill any feelings of defeat by seeing an unmaintained mailbox.

Here’s the thing – and I’ve seen this here in my neighborhood and at my GF’s place.  When one person starts improving their house, it drags others into the cycle, where they need to improve theirs.  In my area, so many people are repainting their houses.  It’s all happening at once (and it’s something on my list too).  When houses are neglected, it works the other way.  Other people use the bad houses as a measure and say, “at least I’m not that bad.”  So by eliminating the lower-bound measures, or “raising the floor”, people raise their standards.  And in this way, a whole community improves.