I recently held two separate gatherings at my house in South Minneapolis. One was a pancake breakfast to welcome two new families to the neighborhood and the other was a barbeque for a professional organization I run. Both provided an opportunity to see the difference between the strong city neighborhood I have lived in for the last 3 years and at least one Minneapolis suburb. I should note that I live in the 9th Ward of the City of Minneapolis and the 5th U.S. Congressional District. I believe the 9th Ward is the most Democratic ward of this Democratic city and the 5th CD is the most reliable Democratic district in the country.
One of the new families remarked that they were surprised and pleased that someone would throw a party with the intention of providing an opportunity for them to meet the neighbors. They said they had lived several places and they had never seen this before. They were excited and pleased to be part of a strong neighborhood.
The second was when a suburban resident who is a member of my professional organization asked about the neighborhood and I began naming the families up and down the block with a little bit of information about each one (e.g., D the financial planner lives across the alley, A works for an engineering firm and dances the flamenco for fun, S and K ….). He stated that even after 16 years he does not know his neighbors and they do not know him. Everyone “sort of keeps to themselves.” He self describes his neighborhood as a strong Republican bastion and he is proud of voting for Bush in 2000 and 2004. He also says that he wishes his neighborhood was a little more like mine.
One more bit about my neighborhood. The Republicans in the neighborhood (there are a few) rarely (ever?) attend any of the neighborhood functions. I don’t recall ever seeing them at any of the cooperative efforts (e.g., making raised bed garden frames, making rain barrels, attending National Night Out, etc.)