What does your ideal community look like? How is it organized, and how is community life structured? What values does the community share?

I grew up in Astoria, Queens and we had our small community that revolved around 24th Street. There was a group of boys, the boys on the block and a few girls and we all played together; at different stages of our childhood lives, it was harmonious, contentious, tension filled but rarely combative. We played tag and cops and robbers when we were in elementary school. When we got older we played a team version of tag and pretty soon left the games for hanging out on the various stoops. Eventually cars came into the equation and that meant that the hanging out left the block and moved onto greener pastures as in Astoria Park.

I was often left behind because I had a very strict mother and my universe was still restricted to the block. The boys were a few years older than I, so of course I was jealous of their freedom, so I explored other blocks outside of our little kingdom, off the reservation but not too far. The boys were not happy with my perceived slight whenever they returned. It was such a weird dynamic.

We also had the elders who surveyed the goings on of the block, the nana's, the yaya's, in a word the grandma's, who sat on the stoop and kept an eye on the comings and goings of the "kids" and any strangers who would walk down the block. We had our own neighborhood watch but they weren't the running type, they were the gossiping type.

I have fond memories of my childhood on 24th Street, the tight knit community, the boys on the block and knowing that at all times there was a grandma who was watching over you, making sure that you stayed out of trouble and that everything was fine on their watch.

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