As I walked through our neighborhood last night, I was struck by the vast amount of fences. More high fences than low fences. More steel fences than picket fences. Fences, I surmise, designed more to keep things out rather than to keep things in.
When were these fences put up? After the riots in the early 90s, or much earlier than that? Likely sometime after my neighborhood transitioned from a semi-wealthy suburban university neighborhood to a highly diverse, low-income urban neighborhood. Did they all go up at once, or was it a slow entrance of these metallic barriers?
I could not help but wonder what my street would feel like if all the fences were taken down. Our house is one of the few without a metal fence. We do, however, have a small waist-high wooden picket fence. True to the rest of our neighborhood, the front gate had been boarded shut to (in)effectively seal off our tiny front yard from the sidewalk. Some months after we moved in, we ripped out the boards and opened the gates.
Now I want to rip down the fence entirely. It serves no good purpose.
Let the dogs come in. Let the kids run through. Let our street look like a place to live rather than a place to hide.
Maybe we can be neighbors instead of strangers.