Friday, February 15, 2008

Exactly Who Is the Cliff Dweller?

About 20 years ago, when Hillsborough was going through a building boom, I bought a high-end townhouse. By high-end I mean it had its own garage and my parents couldn’t believe that I was spending so much money (about $125,000) for “an apartment” when I could spend the same money for a “real” house.

My neighbors were a varied group.

One was an older widowed lady – a long time Hillsborough resident whose family was well known for the hundreds of hours they had volunteered to the town’s emergency services. She could no longer care for her single-family home, but wanted to stay as independent as possible, remain near her friends and family, and still have a place to plant her rose bushes.

Another neighbor taught piano at the beautiful grand piano that filled her living room. The family had left Russia for the United States and now worked hard to afford the first home they had ever owned – a dream they never thought would be possible - and to proudly honor their adopted country.

Two units down from me was a couple in their sixties. The husband had finally retired after spending decades being repeatedly transferred all over the country while serving in the United States Army. This was the first home they had actually owned.

There were families who wanted their children to be able to safely play outside their houses and truck drivers and owners of small businesses, and young working couples; a variety of people working hard on the American dream, starting with their first small home.

Hillsborough should be proud to have these families choose to live here. But recently a resident of the western end of town, posting on a local forum, disdainfully declared that Hillsborough would be better off without these people who he contemptuously and condescendingly refers to as “cliffdwellers.”

As far as I can determine, his superior attitude rests on the belief that his family has a right to reside here because they have been here longer and he lives on one of the older homes on a small farm. He believes our town would be a better place if all the “newer” homes (by which he seems to mean any dwelling built after his) went away and their residents ceased to exist.

That is an interesting viewpoint from a resident whose forefathers apparently arrived in North America only around the seventeenth century. The real cliff dwellers, possibly ancestors of the present-day Pueblo tribe, built their towns in the southwest United States between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries.

Which homes would those original cliff dwellers want to go away? Who would they choose for their neighbors?

Who would you choose for your neighbors?


"The basis of world peace is the teaching which runs through almost all the great religions of the world. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Christ, some of the other great Jewish teachers, Buddha, all preached it. Their followers forgot it. What is the trouble between capital and labor, what is the trouble in many of our communities, but rather a universal forgetting that this teaching is one of our first obligations." - Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)

1 comment:

Val said...

Great blog entry! I haven't been around much, but from what I can see, our resident-cliff-dweller-detractor is not posting much either. Morphed, or moved on?