I was re-reading Diana Leafe Christian’s books again this week (they are a must read) and she mentioned living upstream and downstream from your neighbors. She meant it figuratively – what you do affects your neighbors downstream. I chuckled – I had a literal incident.
My house was in the middle but uphill from the house next door. I moved in hoping to keep my streak of never mowing a lawn (Okay, I helped my step father as a teen and have tried not to touch a lawn mower since). So, I saw that the neighbors down the street had sand bags. I asked if I could have them since the flood issue had ended. They agreed and I made my own beach. I always wanted to live at the beach and I knew I couldn’t because I wanted to live in cohousing instead my whole life.
I had never landscaped in my whole life so I was proud of myself. I took some of the rocks leftover from the initial construction clearing and made a border. I put those heavy bags of sand all around. I didn’t look it up on the internet but I did one thing wrong – I should have put a tarp down first to prevent weeds and grass getting through. But when they did – it looked like natural dunes so I didn’t care.
I found two beach chairs that seemed abandoned in a storage barn and no one ever claimed them (Luckily since they were old and one broke the first time another neighbor sat in it). But she and I sat there and enjoyed the beach. I even bought a kiddie pool where it sprays out some so it sounded like a fountain. We had a blast and all the kids came over to play in what I called a beach but they called a sandbox.
Unfortunately, that first day showed a problem. That kiddie pool ran over and right down the hill to the neighbors and into their lovely front garden. I was horrified to see that and knew I couldn’t use it again. I gave the pool to neighbors with young children.
So, I saw first hand how what you do can go downstream and be the next neighbor’s problem. That neighbor was so kind and offered to build me a simple fountain that contained the water. I was touched.
Then the big blew up happened and I left. The beach got covered up with real dirt so I could sell the house (which never happened but still looks good at least). I returned the chair to the storage barn. I took my pool back since they got a larger one for the 4th of July party which they made a point not to invite me. I gave it to a coworker with a toddler and she appreciated it since she’s a struggling, underpaid teacher.
I wish my community would take Diana Leafe Christians’ books seriously. I told them how I read them and her articles and she has information that helps communities. I later saw that my suggestion to have some form of accountability to our policies (like she recommends) was mocked at a meeting where they joked about corporal punishment. Many functioning communities will tell you – if you don’t deal with the small tensions, the conflicts, it will all blow up. I am still angry it had to blow up on me.
P.S. I believe in the Law of Attraction and wasn’t really thinking about it when I created a beach but it worked. I ended up at the real beach. So I may not have a fountain but I have the waves and made my dream come true.