This blog is intended to be an international conversation about our neighborhoods. What makes a neighborhood? How are we defined by the places where we once lived, where we live now? What would others see if they had a glimpse of our neighborhoods? At the State University of New York at Fredonia, we started to ask ourselves these questions, and we wanted to post our descriptions and invite others to do the same. We are hoping for an album of neighborhood images and descriptions--and plenty of opportunities for questions, dialogues, and musing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Langfield Homes

The Langfield Homes are located in Buffalo, New York in the United States. I have been living in these homes my whole life. I live with my mother Renee, my father Eddie, my older brother Quincy and my younger sister Britney. Personally just by looking at the place it doesn't seem as if it's a place for people in the poverty income level. But, in order to live in these homes you have to have to be in a lower social class. The demographic in this area is mostly African-American. People in the neighborhood call the government run houses "projects"; which is consider a negative term to use. Because of the concentrated impoverished people the crime rate is higher than other areas that are more diverse. The houses are all identical on the inside and outside. We all have two floors with one or two bathroom and from one to four bedrooms. Your monthly rent depends on your income, if you have no income you pay a base rate of something like $50 with utilities included. Despite high crime rates, I see very little of it with my own eyes. On my row of houses (which is seen the picture) there are more little kids than anything so I see more positive than other rows might see. We see little boys playing football and little girls drawing pictures with sidewalk chalk. On Friday nights most of the youth go to youth night at the neighborhood church. They offer religion, food, and fun which is a good bargain for kids who might not have food in their homes. Living in this type of environment has made me look for the better things in life. So, I don't regret being brought up in these homes I call home.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Talos Way, Rochester, NY

I grew up on Talos Way in Rochester, NY. Rochester is a very suburban area. It's both calming and relaxing. My nieghborhood is located right next to an elementary school. Paul Road Elementary is where I attended. Talos Way is a wide circle of twp-story houses with beautiful green lawns. When the winter comes, the houses are bright and snow covered. It looks pretty amazing with all of the colorful Christmas lights. Nearly every family, if not all, decorate their house. My neighborhood is very family-friendly. I have known my neighbors Bob and Rita for years. They are both deaf and a little mute, so communication is hard, but sign language is definately useful when talking to them. Even with the language barrier, they're still very nice people and from a young age, they always let us play with the black lab, Candy. There are frequently families walking around our block. Whether they're just taking a leisurely walk, pushing a stroller, or with their kids on their bikes, everyone always has a good time. Kids have always been playing in outside throughout the neighborhood. I used to play with my neighbors, Ryan and Chris Quinn, Shawna Smith, Anthony Larocca and others. We would play in the Quinn's treehouse, on my sister's and my playset, in my pool, or just play tag throughout the whole neighborhood. There's no fencing in any yard and it's very open to play in. At the same time, my neighborhood is safe and comforting because it's not that big and it's just one circle. My neighborhood is beautiful and fun and I wouldn't have lived anywhere else. I really do love it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fairport, New York

I grew up in the inner city of Rochester and moved to Fairport when I was 14. Fairport is a suburb of Rochester, located southeast of the city. My neighborhood is so different from the city I grew up in! The city street I lived on was very loud and interesting, and my neighbors were like family to me. The street I live on now in Fairport (pictured) is very quiet, which was difficult for me to grow used to. The houses are spaced farther apart, and I don't know my neighbors very well. Since my street has so little car traffic and is connected to other neighborhoods just like it via side streets, most of my neighbors walk their dogs or go jogging every day, and my parents met most of their friends on our street by taking walks every night at the same time. I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to a jogging schedule like that yet! I like my neighborhood, but I find it boring most of the time; all the houses have the same architecture, the same cars, the same types of families, and nothing exciting ever happens. I know when I'm older I'll want to live in the city again!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Livonia, New York

I live in Livonia which is a very small town. I graduated with about 160 students, so that just shows how little my school is compared to a lot of high schools I hear about here in Fredonia. There isn't much to my town or much to do, but it is a nice place to live because most everyone is very friendly and a lot of the people know eachother. We have a couple little parks, a grocery story, school, some little restaurants, farms, and not much else. I don't mind at all because we only have to drive about 15 or 20 minutes to get to bigger stores or a mall. My Neighborhood has about 10 houses and kids from all ages. When i was younger, all the kids would stay up late on summer nights playing games outside with everyone, and sometimes we would have campfires or neighborhood parties together. I liked growing up in a small town because I felt close to everyone around me, and that is always nice to have growing up.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

West Henrietta, New York

If you continue down this street you will find three different horse farms, four corn fields and miles of trails for walking or four wheeling. With the closest store around the corner, it is about 15 minutes to any point of interest. Many people who live around me dont go out much and usually find there own form of entertainment by four wheeling, farming, snow mobiling and many other things. The people in my neighborhood are not what you would call a close knit community but we do socialize. Even though not all of us talk to one another we all know who the other is. Its a small part of a town outside of large city so it is hidden within the cities shadow. Many people around my town know about the town of Henrietta and main parts of it but not many drive through West Henrietta. We have 2 main intersections on the same street and once you drive passed those it is almost all farmland. While i am guilty of complaining that i have nothing to do when i am home i would not want to live any where else.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Memorable Experiences of Leon Place

Each and every family residing on Leon Place interacts with their neighbors, which is what really makes this neighborhood a neighborhood. Everyone on my street knows each other and treats each other with respect and is always very welcoming. Mr. Dempsey, a tall, elder man that lives in the last house on the street, makes his own Christmas cards and sends them to everyone on the street. The cards look very creative and festive, and are just enough to boost the holiday spirit. There has never been a time when someone would walk by and not give a pleasant hello, or even a friendly wave. This friendliness also provides a sense of security, which is what makes this neighborhood a great place to grow up. With this sense of security, parents feel as though it is safe to allow their children to play outside without having to worry about any harmful incidents. My childhood memories wouldn’t have been as unforgettable if it wasn’t for the time I spent playing in the yards with the other children who lived on my street. By the time summer rolled around, kids could be seen playing outside at all hours of the day. A quiet neighborhood was rare to come by on a summer night if you were passing by my street. We played the same games almost every night, yet they never got old. In fact, the classic games, such as ghost in the grave yard and kick the can, were the favorites. The friendships that were created during our childhoods still exist today. One day my brother and I received the news that our close friend who lived just a few houses down from us would be moving to Connecticut because his dad got a new job. It was one of the most disheartening things I had heard since living in this neighborhood. But this just goes to show the relationships that are possible when a neighborhood takes you in.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hazard Street, Solvay New York

Hazard Street is the place I call home. On the corner next to the stop sign, you will find the green house that always has at least one car in the driveway. My neighbors are so friendly and are very warm and welcoming. Every0ne's door is always open and you are always greeted when you get out of the car with a "Hey, how's it going!" or a "Hello!" Directly down the street there is one of the Solvay Fire Houses, a park and one of the most historic places in Solvay, Hazard Street School. This was the place that my entire family attended, and sadly it was just torn down to make athletic fields for our school district. Regardless, the memories of that building still remain with me and many of my neighbors. Not only does the friendliness exist on Hazard Street, but the neighbors on the neighboring streets are so forthcoming and again, greet everyone with a smile. Not only is the house I live in the one I have lived in my entire life, but it is the home that my great-grandparents lived as well, so my home is even more meaningful to me and my family. I could not imagine living on any other street in Solvay, it's a place that I'm comfortable and I know and love every single one of my neighbors-even the old man across the street who believes that our American and Italian flags make to much noise when the wind blows!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Neighbor--Written by Letitia Li

My neighbor is an old lady .We all call her Grandma Wang. I think she likes listening Peking Opera because she always listens Peking Opera in the morning after she wakes up.She is serious.She is always strict to the child in the neighborhood.No child is allowed to enter her flat.We all think she is so weird.
But I must agree that she is good at gardening.She plants a lot of flowers,such as Chinese Rose,Morning glory.All of the flowers, which she plants,are very beautiful.Some little girls in our neighborhood receives the pretty flowers from her.However,I never get the chance to receive the flowers. I once heard she had told others that she thought I was not serious .
I only know a little about her. Perhaps, she isn' t so weird as we think.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My neighborhood-Astoria, Queens

When I was a little girl my mom bought her first apartment in Astoria, Queens. Astoria is a small yet diverse community right before the big city, New York City. Astoria is filled with many brick houses and buildings, it is not that colorful. There is so much shopping you can do here too. You can also grab something to eat at one of the many restaurants, and to burn it off you can go dancing at one of the many nightclubs. My house was located in a great red brick building with a brown metal door. There were eight other apartments alongside mine all different with distinct charms. The apartments were the same with the same amber brown hue painted on the doors, but the people inside them were what made them unique. When you smell spanakopita in the oven, arroz con condules on the stove, curried goat in the broiler, and penne al a vodka being sauteed, you know you have a diverse neighborhood. Living in that multicultural stew has taught me many things (aside from learning how to say “hello” in six different languages). One thing my neighborhood has taught me was that a neighborhood is not just the brick buildings aligning a one way street, or a row of houses each with a clean cut lawn, it is your neighbors who are the main ingredients in that stew. Each and every one of my neighbors had some type of experience or knowledge to share with me; most of them being immigrants and coming to America to seek better lives. I never knew I can relate to someone who was not the same skin color as me, or who did not speak the same language, but I was in for a surprise. Asking my neighbor for some sugar and realizing it was the same sugar I used at home, was a startling experience for a young girl who believed her culture was worlds away from another.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Neighborhood

My neighborhood is one of the most interesting places you would go. If you go to the right three blocks you'll walk into the flatbush projects. However if you go down five blocks in the opposite direction you will see million dollar houses and a beautiful park. I always love running laps around this park with its constant scenery a good weather. My neighborhood is truly a diverse and great place.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Neighbor

In China, there is an old saying "A near neighbour is better than a distant relative", which means neighbour sometimes could help us a lot.
When I was a child, I always can't find my door key when I came back from school. And usually at that time ,there was no one at home, which means I should stay out. My neighbours always kindly invited me to stay at their homes to wait my parents back from work.
In our country, we can meet our neighbour almost every day. We will know what happened at neighbour's homes. We care about others and would love to help each other. That make our relationship very close.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our Neighborhood in Gaborone, Botswana

The Village: Plot 4715
We live on an un-named street in a neighborhood in Gaborone called "The Village."  Gaborone is a Capital City of about 350,000 people and is the largest City in Botswana.  Because the Country and Capital City are very young, this City has expanded rapidly and chaotically from the Center, and different portions of the City are known as "Extensions", "Blocks", or "Phases."  The Village is located near the University of Botswana in the southeastern portion of the City, and is heavily influenced by the University.  We live in University Housing in a row of adjoining apartments. Our nearest neighbors are from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Bulgaria.  We think this is one of the best parts of Gaborone to live in: other neighborhoods are composed of huge mansions surrounded by electric fencing and still others are comprised of very small cinder block homes with outhouses.

Cow Passing Through the Village
The apartments are painted lime green and each has a separate front and back dirt "yard" surrounded by fences.  The front yards are mostly for parking and have padlocked gates.  Our backyard has some nice trees in it that attract a wide variety of birds, and a patio with a table and chairs where we often eat breakfast.  Once or twice a week a group of women dressed in green jumpsuits sweep the street of all vegetative debris.  Further down the road, there have recently been crews of older women and young men and children clearing vegetation with machetes, handsaws and pickaxes. They are also clearing the deep drainage ditches that carry water, sediment and debris during torrential rainstorms.  Herds of goats and cattle move through the village from time to time, leaving their organic land mines for pedestrians and weaving through traffic at their will.

Although there is very little public transportation, there are few sidewalks or pedestrian facilities anywhere in Botswana, and for this reason, many people walk down our somewhat quiet and less perilous street, as opposed to choosing one of the busy arterials that parallel our street.  When most folks pass each other, they will smile and say "Dumela Rrra or Dumela Mmma" for "Hello Sir or Madam."  There are scattered dusty or muddy empty lots in our neighborhood that become the sites of seemingly impromtu driving schools and car washes, and people often have truckloads of produce for sale here and there.  There are large pullout areas for the "combis" (minivans) that transport people throughout the City or to the main bus station downtown.  A ride on a combi is inexpensive but sometimes terrifying because the combi drivers weave crazily through traffic.  Traffic here travels on the opposite side of the road from that in the US, so being in traffic is always a hair-raising experience for us.

Thapong Visual Arts Center
Across the street from our row of apartments is the Thapong Visual Art Center and Gallery, and an adjoining small park which includes the foundations of the first colonial fort.  The Art Center grounds and the park are full of beautiful sculptures including huge metal animals that are quite striking.  Often, the artists are working just on the other side of the fence.  Scattered benches offer a nice spot for birdwatching.  Trees in the neighborhood offer a rotating palette of color: purple jacarandas, orange Brazilian flametrees, and yellow trumpets, to name just a few. Although they are beautiful, many of the trees in the City are not native to this continent, and are, thus, of less value to native fauna.

Just two blocks away is a Choppies, a Batswana supermarket chain.  This Choppies is usually extremely busy and the tiny parking lot is often a huge traffic jam.  Inside the store, pop music is blasting and the shelves are perpetually being stocked so getting around in there is always confusing and chaotic.  All along the edges of the parking lot, card tables are set up with people selling candy, single cigarettes, gum  and phone cards. Near Choppies there is also a pharmacy, a hair salon, a bakery, an internet cafe, a take-way restaurant, a bar, and a bottle store (liquour store).  The National Botanical Gardens is within walking distance, and this is a wonderful place to take a walk, get some fresh air, and watch the dassies scrambling among the rocks, and perhaps the local troop of vervet monkeys will be there too, if they are not raiding our garbage can at the time.  There is also a gym within walking distance with a refreshingly cool swimming pool surrounded by palm trees with dangling southern masked weaver nests.

The Ngotwane River "runs" (it is usually dry) along the edge of this neighborhood separating it from the neighboring Tlokweng, which was once a separate village but is now a quickly expanding suburb of Gaborone. All this growth means that roads are being constantly widened, and no provisions are made for business or pedestrian access, so pedestrians must pick their own way through active construction zones in and amongst backhoes and steamrollers and often across ditches or huge mounds of dirt.  Considering that most folks wear fancy clothes and shoes all of the time, we don't know how they arrive at their destination looking so dapper!

Our neighborhood is full of all sorts of sounds. At dawn, we hear a variety of birds and the sounds of marching and singing from the nearby Police Academy.  When there is a soccer match at the University Stadium, we can hear cheering and vuvuzuelas.  The sound of traffic is nearly constant. The sounds of cow- and goat-bells tinkle by from time to time.  This time of year (late spring), the afternoon often yields booming thunder and torrential rain. We hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse of our neighborhood; if you have a question about it, please post it in the comments below!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I like to sit and watch people at the Clock Tower Square, which is right in the center of Thimphu. I took this photo from a bench. Behind me, there are several shops, a travel agency, a supermarket, not American style but a large by Bhutanese standards shop with lots of goodies such as yogurt, milk, local cheese, cereals, crackers and what not. In front, you see a few OK-quality hotels on the main through-fare of the capital, Norzin Lam. To the left, you can see some of the prayer wheels, which you turn to send messages of peace and joy to the universe, a common practice here. The air is thin, breathing could be difficult, for we are at 7800 ft up. But the air is clean and clear (see the clouds above the hotels) and breathing is fulfilling in a new sort of way -- every breath is not completely satisfying and you long for more air, just a bit.