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OrdinaryTimes 1.11-Greenbelt

We visited Greenbelt today. A community founded upon the notion that community thrives by encouraging cooperation rather than competition. The community owns the homes. Individuals purchase leases to live there. Sidewalks connect homes via green spaces, rather than lining streets. Schools, shops, and gathering places are close enough that most trips don’t require a car.

My friend III grew up in Greenbelt, his parents counted as founders. Such an idyllic childhood could have ill-prepared him for a successful life, but it didn’t. Instead, it seemed to instill a deep decency. He’s the one who’s known community since the day he was born.

When this community was founded, it had no trouble attracting detractors. Some said it was creeping socialism. McCarthy was certain communism thrived there. Instead, it bred something almost entirely unlike socialism and alien to communism, too: communitarianism: a deep sense that we really are all in this together. Why not combine to form a food co-op to co-opt extractive profit schemes? Why not volunteer our time and some treasure to create and maintain the place we’ll be living together? Why not invest more in green space than asphalt streets?

Some days, the world seems to have gone simply crazy with competition, an illness insisting that you must lose so I can win. A drive becomes a race. A purchase, a bidding war. A need, an entitlement. A gift, an obligation. I could forget that it doesn’t need to be this way. Greenbelt stands in quiet reminder that some dreams do come true, that a community can achieve greatness via decency, and that competition has always been perfectly capable of creating what nobody, not even the so-called winners, really want.

Greenbelt sure ain’t anybody’s Pottersville.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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