Getting our Hands Dirty in the Soil of Community

Sara Joy Proppe

I think we can all agree that the past month of news has been overwhelming and heartbreaking. The death of Philando Castile has hit particularly close to home for me. The shooting occurred less than two miles from where I live, and the protests that shut down Interstate 94 happened less than half a mile from my house. That night I sat under the whir of circling helicopters, feeling trapped and useless to do much of anything about the angst, hurt, and anger being expressed just outside my door. A few days later from my back door I watched Philando’s casket on a horse-drawn carriage lead the funeral procession down my street.

That same week I attended two community meetings — one about a parking study being conducted for my neighborhood, the other about a test zoning ordinance that would allow accessory dwelling units to be built. Going to these meetings felt like a strange and superfluous privilege given the circumstances of my neighborhood. In all honesty, I have not been sure how to resolve the tension of living in such close proximity to this pain and yet feeling removed from it. Likewise, talking about parking in the midst of these circumstances seems so trivial, and yet, I care about parking and its implications for my neighborhood.

I have found myself asking, How do I carry both of these realities within myself because the truth is I am one person and can only live one reality?

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