Many of the people who work and volunteer at Patchwork live within a one mile radius of our building. That includes 7 out of 10 staff members and key volunteers. And, even if someone at Patchwork doesn’t live in the neighborhood themselves, they know multiple people who do.
It lends something special to the way that Patchwork operates. This is OUR neighborhood. It’s not some place that we drive across town to get to every morning and drive away from at the end of the day. It’s not a place we come to just to provide a service or set up a program. We see our neighbor’s struggles and they are our own. We are all part of this neighborhood together.
Now that the weather is starting to cool off, it’s a pleasant walk to work for me. As I near Patchwork, I wave hello to Caroline who is out in front of her house. I see Percy riding his vintage tandem toward Patchwork. I pass Robert at the bus stop and he waves. On the way home at the end of the day, I report a wandering urban chicken to its owner.
Other days, John and I might walk to the river and say hello to James sitting at the Haynie’s Corner Fountain. On a hot day, it’s always cooler down by the fountain, some Patchwork regulars have told us. When Shawn stops at the corner mini-mart to pick up some milk, she sees plenty of people she knows and she can give a friend a ride to somewhere they need to go. At the mini-mart, there’s even a little jar on the counter to collect pocket change to benefit Patchwork.
At Patchwork, there is a sense that we’re all in this together. There is more friendliness and solidarity when you pass each other on the sidewalk and commune over eggs in the local mini-mart’s cooler.