Wednesday, February 01, 2012


So, in this politically charged year, when it's getting harder and harder to remember what it actually means to be a patriot, what really constitutes a citizen, and what a community is truly made of, we decided to sign up for 30 DAYS OF GOOD.  Have you heard of it?

We so loved our Good Deeds Advent Calendar from December that we wanted it continue for as long as possible.

And by we, of course, I mean me.

What I didn't want, though, was for it to become a chore, for it to be something the monsters saw as boring and tiresome, and for it to be more work for me than for them.  But you'd be shocked to know how difficult it is to find a source of random but unique and fun daily good deed ideas.  Even in the bottomless internets.

As it happens, the month of February is about citizenship at GOOD, which I find particularly poignant being that it's also Black History Month.  For our first challenge, GOOD CITIZENSHIP TASK #1, we were asked to learn the history of our neighborhood.

Ugh and blah, is pretty much what I thought, as we live in a primarily upper middle class, primarily white, primarily conservative little bedroom community.

Blah, blah, blah.

But the juice...ah, the juice was right there beneath the surface. :)

This area, evidently, first belonged to a vast and thriving subdivision of a tribe of Ohlone Native Americans.  The Coastoans, as they were referred to, were a cooperative, not competitive, coastal people. They had very strong family ties, and grieved deaths with wails and expressive demonstrations of emotion.

Years later, a large land grant was sold to a very prominent Mexican soldier for $400,000, who eventually gambled away portions of his enormous rancho bit by bit, and returned to Chile, penniless and distraught, where he lived out the remainder of his days with his family.

Wealthy European settlers then took over the area. The missions came through and the Native Americans were either converted to Catholicism or ostracized. The Spanish and a few affluent New England families built up the canyons and valleys and hills, and have remained and thrived in the area.

Both Wikipedia and My Hometown Website provided a wealth of easily accessible, easily digestible info. The kids and I are now on a trek to visit some of the first homes preserved by the historical society.

So, okay. This. Was. Awesome.

And I feel just a little bit closer to the land around me, beneath me, than I did two days ago.  It still doesn't make me love my neighbors any more, but maybe that task'll come further along this month. :)

Maybe y'all can sign up for the 30 DAYS OF GOOD Challenge, too, and share some of your stories with us. We'd love to hear a little about the history of your hometowns, and maybe shrink the size of our neighborhoods at the same time. Go on now, and do some good. :)

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