The New Jewish Neighborhood (Part 6): Building Blocks of Community

Please take 2.5 minutes to watch this video….

  http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

I think the Japanese model raises some deeply evocative questions about the nature of community.  If in America the streets are named and blocks are the “unnamed spaces in-between,” what does that say about the occupied space?  After all, we don’t live in the street.  We live on the block.  Our houses and yards (not to mention people, plants and pets) are in those unnamed spaces.

The New Jewish Neighborhood is about paradigm shift — reimagining the way we conceive of Jewish communities and communities in general.  In Jewish tradition, naming has creative power.  Adam names the animals and then his partner.  Parents name children in memory of loved ones, hoping to invoke their convictions and values.  Jews-by-choice name themselves as they emerge into their new religious selves.  Cancer or trauma survivors select an additional name to acknowledge their “rebirth” into life.

Perhaps the NJN is a place where blocks, not streets, are named.  If so, how might we name them?  We might choose names based on shared interests or values: “The Cooking Block” or “The Reading Block.”  Or we could select names that reflect the diversity of a given block: “The Block of Six Religions” or “The Block Representing Nine Decades of Life.”

If we think about blocks as dynamic spaces humming with life, might we find new ways to come together?  One new way would be to use technology to deepen connections between and among residents of the same neighborhood, the same block!

Here are a few intriguing examples of websites proposing to do this (thanks to Miriam for the heads up):
www.homeelephant.comwww.yatown.com and www.nextdoor.com.  Try one out in your neighborhood.  Then, post here or on my facebook page and share how it’s working.

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