This Thanksgiving, I found myself noticing more about who was present in our neighborhood. Watching kids and cousins return to visit for a meal, a day, a week. Sure, I’m at BAPA now, so it was particularly gratifying to observe this return-to-home ritual. I took the opportunity to engage as many of these “visitors” as I could.
Returning to our hometown is a process that celebrates the comfort of rituals. Pulling up to our childhood home and driving past the schools, parks, burger places that made up our routine are deeply grounding experiences. The rituals of knowing your neighbor, and always greeting the local coffee shop owner, florist or waitress at our favorite breakfast place feel good to practice again.
It’s not a new concept that young people seek greener grass, often in their twenties. Job opportunity, educational options, the chance to meet new people, experience new places and learn who they are. Talking with those visitors returning home for Thanksgiving underscored how many definitions of “home” there really are. I heard so many of them tell stories of how they intend to settle down here, raise a family here, or how their sister just bought a house here. For a community organization like BAPA, these conversations feel much like a to-do list.
If I challenge myself, the BAPA staff and volunteers to look through the lens of those who grew up in our area, we can see what to focus on providing for these “visitors” right here. Our proximity to a major U.S. city and all it has to offer leads the list as an undeniable feature of living here, but does the real currency that makes up “home” come in less obvious ways? If we focus on nurturing Beverly/Morgan Park’s traditional places and activities and carefully listen to our returning young adults, new residents and transplanted homeowners for what new experiences we can offer what will we learn? Could it become a script that BAPA can work to perfect and deliver?
These conversations brought a very powerful feeling of comfort to someone like me who chose Beverly/Morgan Park as the place to settle. In our community the grass is really green and every day it gets greener. It reminded me of what I have thought from the day I moved into our first house, and I now devote my time and energy to. Out here, in the Village in the City, we’re on to something special.