living streets

Fairy houses on the berm of the neighbour's property with a note tucked in the side:
"Please do not disturb the fairies."
The neighbours property is where it is all happening at the moment because during these Autumn days that is where the sun hits first, while our garden still lies in shadow and morning dew.
We know our neighbours.  We discuss food production over the hedge and we look after each others chickens while each of us take holidays.
They look after our fairies too.

I mourn the loss of children inhabiting our streets.
It seems few children are ever visible in our communities anymore.
If living streets are where children can play it would be fair to say that most streets in town are on death's door.
I remember a street in Gisborne (Gisborne is where we lived for 7 years previously to here). I often walked along this street in the early evening after Gunter had arrived home. It was a back street in the poorer part of town and it had few fences or cars but it always had children playing in the street. Those kids would be hanging out on the front lawn, swinging in the trees and playing tag and hide 'n' seek and I always felt safe and happy to be amongst the laughter and the life in that street.
Our street is quiet; few cars come past. We like it that way. It's safer, that's for sure: safer for skipping and biking and flower collecting and building fairy villages.
We like walking too. Walking places slows us down and makes us available to say hi to strangers whom may turn out to be friends one day, or not. 
The outcome isn't important but I do think the connection is.

In a recent blogpost, the blogger wrote about what "a painfully polarised society" we have become.
I couldn't agree more.
Empty streets mean we bump into each other less often and the more isolated from each other we become, the more further apart we feel. Polarised opinions flourish in conditions such as these, where it seems easy to magnify our differences and forget the common ground we all share.
Protecting the girls from the "real world" has never been part of our reason for keeping the girls out of school. In fact, keeping them out of school means that they can just get on with living their lives in the real world with the real people in our community.
In many ways I think that living fully in our community is actually all we need - they are such a rich source of learning.
Sure, we have protected them from excessive media exposure. As I have said before here, I'm not willing to compete with the marketing industry. I'm relieved at the lack of media hype and pushy popular culture in our world and I'm sure we would have more if they went to school. They will have plenty of time to negotiate those highways later on if they wish upon a strong foundation of play and real life living.
Instead having whole days where they can interact with real people in real contexts bring rich possibilities. Playing in our neighbourhood, walking in our streets, hanging out in public spaces and visiting places of interest means we get to interact with the diversity of people who populate our communities now. Claiming space for children and their adults offers opportunities to share laughter with others, building safer communities one connection at a time.
And so playing on the street is part of what we do on fine Autumn days.

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