It takes a neighborhood to manage a Free Bench

Today on the Free Bench:  A smiling blue fish pillow, two knife holders, a container of leftover spaghetti, a DVD of Whale Rider, and a package of Black Tiger Prawns with the heads and shells still on.

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We returned home Tuesday evening after being gone for 13 days to find a delightfully festooned Free Bench and a note.

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I will not detail the contents of the entire note (or maybe you can read this tiny print!), but the gist of it was that “our gracious neighbors” (that is, me and Garth) have provided us with this Free Bench so don’t abuse it by leaving stuff that really should just be disposed of.  

It was a sweet thing to come back to – and not just because anything one might describe with the verb “festoon” is bound to be pretty cool.  I was delighted that someone took this sort of initiative.  I doubt I would have.  How does someone look at our Free Bench and, rather than thinking, “Not my problem,” says, “Hey, this is my neighborhood and it’s my job to do my part to keep it the way we all want it to be”?  I know what it looks like when people don’t do that.  There is a block that Kami and I give a wide berth when we walk to her school because it’s just sort of dumpy and depressing.  No initiative on that block.

We suspected a couple neighbors of having this sort of get-up-and-go that probably resulted in the note and decorations, and finally we learned it was Ronnie.  She lives around the corner, is maybe 10 years older than me and drives a school bus for a living.  She adores animals and, as long as I’ve known her, she has always had a dog who looks a little like this:

Roam the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier at 8 months old

Ronnie has single-handedly entreated (through small signs at dog-poop level) that people walking their dogs through our ‘hood pick up after them.  Ronnie is my inspiration.

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