When I walk the dog, I may be listening to my headphones, but my eyes take in everything. OK, maybe not everything. But a lot. Like this little lot. It looks like at one point it was a cross-through street. It’s between 9th St and 8th St and it is just two houses deep. There are old stone street markers (Gainesville used to have these white stone street markers on all the corners; you can hardly find them now, but they’re still around in the older parts of town) and someone has buried them upside down in order to block off the road. The road has long since been torn up, and it really looks more like a double-sized lot than a through-street or alleyway.
If it wasn’t so shady, years ago I would have lobbied to make it a community garden. What a perfect space, right? And there are so many hippies in my neighborhood that you know a community garden would be right up it’s alley. So to speak. It’s an alley? Get it? See what I did there? Sadly, it’s pretty much a full-shade area, and while the neighborhood has used it a couple of times as a get-together spot for our Crime Watch group… nothing much happens there. It’s like an invisible area that people walk by and ignore. Nobody tends to it. Nobody trims the weeds, mows the grass, digs up the air potatoes. There are a few broken bottles and probably some condoms and syringes (STAY CLASSY, EAST SIDE).
But in the Gainesville in my dreams, it’s a sunny community garden. Neighbors meet there and chat, and work together, and their kids play nearby. The day care up the road has a kids section, and feeds kids a few times a week from food only grown in the garden. It’s pretty, it’s sunny, it’s safe, and it gives everyone in the ‘hood a sense of pride and responsibility. In my dreams it’s not invisible.