There Goes the Neighborhood

By respres (http://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/2539334956/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

By respres [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

About 3 months ago, two properties adjacent to ours were put on the market.

The first house was a foreclosure, currently owned by Fannie Mac. We expect this property to be on the market quite some time, as it has not been updated since the original owner bought it in the early 1960s. We have nicknamed it the squirrel condo, as the 15-foot rotted facia along the roof line has been chewed by the little tree rats, and they have gained access to the attic. We also call it a beehive, as the siding is so damaged and rotten that bees have infested all accessible areas and chase any lawn mower away from their protected territory.

The first time a contractor came to mow this property after it was listed, they damaged our lawn with an eighteen foot arc that cut through our sod and destroyed our lawn up to a foot and a half over the property boundary. We estimate the actual value of this home to be about half the listed price, and pray any potential buyer has the wisdom to have an independent inspector check it over before signing a purchase agreement. We have reported the roof line to the city environmental officer, who is supposed to enforce codes that would require repair.

The other property, an identical house to ours without some of the add-ons this house received, just sold. I met my new neighbors today.

A pleasant and bright young couple with a toddler, Tim and Anna are similar to us. We talked about lawn chemicals and how much we both agree that 2-4D is not a salad dressing. We talked about butterfly gardens, preserving food, and helping them get acquainted with the community. They admired my organic vegetable garden and I told them where to look for bags of extra pickings from the garden that I would share with them.

I watched Tim pick up the little boy and show him the ripe mulberrys hanging from the low branches. He picked one and ate it, then offered one to his son. The little eyes enlarged with wonderment as he excitedly pointed to the tree and asked for “More!”

I walked back into my house and breathed a sigh of relief. Of all the people that could have bought that house, I was blessed with new neighbors that are a refreshing change from the former occupant, who asked me one day if the dying maple in my yard was a boy tree or a girl tree. She was totally dependent on companies that she could hire to resolve any problem that owning real estate could possibly involve.

After spending more than 5 weeks trying to get the identity of the contractor that damaged our property, we have decided to pursue the matter through small claims court. The owner can ignore our emails and phone calls, but not a judgement placed on the property which must be paid before a purchase agreement can be signed. The realty company seems powerless against Fannie Mae and their protected contractors.

I’ll believe corporations are people when they can shake my hand across a backyard fence and have a conversation with me. I’ll believe corporations are people when I can watch them teach their children about trees and fruit.

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About MNgranny

An activist since the age of 17, MNgranny embraced the Occupy Movement from its beginning. After earning a BA in Mass Communications and enjoying a 30 year career, she is now disabled and dedicates her life to changing the world for the next generation. Her experiences include volunteering in community service organizations and taking leadership roles throughout her academic and professional life. She is also a survivor of rape and domestic violence, a published author and a master naturalist. She has focused for the last several years on studying Middle East geopolitical impacts, and specializes in Kurdish history, culture and politics.

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