Local View:Close neighborhoods make Duluth special
I am sitting on my front porch to write this. Before I moved to Duluth, I lived in Rockford, Ill., and would never have considered sitting on my front porch. Not because Rockford is the ninth-most dangerous city in the U.S., according to Forbes m...
I am sitting on my front porch to write this. Before I moved to Duluth, I lived in Rockford, Ill., and would never have considered sitting on my front porch. Not because Rockford is the ninth-most dangerous city in the U.S., according to Forbes magazine (OK, maybe that has a little bit to do with it) but because when I was there I wanted only to mind my own business, and I wanted everybody else to mind theirs.
But in Duluth there is a certain sense of community. It was actually the reason I chose to relocate here.
In Woodland, my little neighborhood, this sense of community is deep. There is a neighborhood grocery, a hardware store, a laundromat, bank, barbershop, dentist's office and restaurants. I can say with absolute certainty, and after living here only four years, who owns each establishment. And they know me, too. Maybe not my name, but they do know me, and they know my children. I could never say that about Rockford, and I lived there 10 years.
Now, granted, Rockford is a bit bigger than Duluth, and its neighborhoods are less defined. But never ever in a million years there would I have let my kids go outside to play without me right there with them. In Duluth, I send them to the grocery store for me when I forget things, and just the other day I let my 4-year-old walk home alone from the barber shop. (I watched him the whole way, of course, and made sure he made it; the mom in me would have it no other way.)
The folks who live in Woodland are fixtures. Some of them, like my husband and some of his friends, are "generational." That is, they grew up here, their folks still live up here, and now they are raising their kids here. They seem to be family-oriented. I see the same people at my kids' hockey rink as I see in the grocery store, as I pass in the gas station. They know my face and I know theirs.
Oddly, many of the "Woodland People" are related to me now. My father-in-law was a fixture at the Woodland fire station for many years. My husband's cousin lives next door to us, and another cousin owns and operates the hardware store. His aunt owns the laundromat. It is this sense not only of community but of belonging that makes Woodland a true home for all of us.
I didn't realize until recently how important this level of comfort with my neighbors and my neighborhood is, but it is this comfort that makes me take pride in my home and my yard and care about those around me. We look out for one another here. You can feel it.
Duluth is welcoming like that, but you really have to be the kind of person who is willing to become a Duluthian, not like a lot of the younger people who come here and want to change Duluth into something it is not. They don't understand that Duluth is one of those caught-in-time places that doesn't change much and certainly doesn't change fast.
Not only is my front porch safe, it is also breezy and pleasant. The "Beav" doesn't live down the road from me, but he could. And if he did, I would know about it and so would everyone else here in Woodland. And I might just invite him up to my porch one day for lemonade. And he wouldn't have to be scared to enjoy a glass, because he would know me, too.
Moriah Erickson is a writer and respiratory therapist for Essentia Health who lives in Duluth's Woodland neighborhood with her husband, Brian, a self-employed flooring contractor; their voiceless hound dog, Huckleberry; and their seven children.