Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two Aspects of 2012 Old North Picnic Day: 1) Nothing Much Happened and 2) Its Threat Increased Neighborhood Solidarity (138)

Two aspects of the much-anticipated 2012 Picnic Day are most striking to me: 1) the lack of much happening that day and 2) Old North neighbors’ positive collective response to the threat presented by Picnic Day.

l) I think most observers agree that, compared to last year, this year’s Old North Picnic Day is hardly worth mentioning. Although there were a few incidents, the day and evening were notable for their relative lack of large and loud parties, roaming and screaming drunken groups, and vandalism. There was an instance or more of each of these, of course, but not on last year’s scale.*

2) One classic proposition about human social organizations is that external threats to them tend to cause a) new forms of defensive organization and b) an increase in positive community solidarity.

I think we have seen yet another clear example of this proposition in the Old North over the last several weeks and months and especially on Picnic Day itself, as well as in the days following.

a) The new “defensive” organization has been quite effectively headed-up by Sheryl Gerety in the form of a Neighborhood Watch network that operated on Picnic Day and seems likely to function in the future.

b) The new positive solidarity has been clear in diverse pleased comments posted on the Old North Nextdoor Company website.

Only people with Old North addresses who sign up and agree to Nextdoor Company terms have access to this “password protected” website. Ironically, this very exclusiveness likely contributes to the new sense of Old North neighbor solidarity.

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* The historic plaque in front of 513 F Street was vandalized again this year. Last year, it was simply pushed over where it stood. In response to that act, the owner placed the plaque stand in a lump of concrete. Undeterred by the weight, vandals this year pulled it up and dragged it from the north side of the yard to the middle of the front door sidewalk. (In the first image, the drag path is visible as a white line in the concrete.)