What is a village?

By the Village Mouse

It’s springtime in the Claremont Village, and everything is beautiful and bountiful. California poppies are popping up all over, and our enthusiasm also rises. New businesses are opening up — Whiskey Loves Basil, Insomnia Cookies — and we are full of vim and vigor as we witness new life in ourselves and our Village.

Where to start? My little mouse brain is exploding with excitement and expectation. I know, let’s start at the beginning: what is a Village? I’m not talking about John Neiuber’s columns in the Courier, which are amazing. I’m talking about the here and now. Who are we as a Village, and why are we so adamant about protecting and preserving it?

First of all, I looked it up on ChatGPT for the first time ever, and what a great definition:

“People are often drawn to villages for their close-knit communities, slower pace of life, and connection to nature. Villages offer a sense of community and belonging, with neighbors who know each other and often support one another. Additionally, villages’ peaceful and scenic surroundings can provide a respite from the hustle of urban life, allowing people to enjoy a simpler and more tranquil lifestyle.”

I think the robots have been to Claremont, don’t you?

Recently, a young mum told me she and her husband love to park their car away from the Village on date nights, and then away they go — strolling! They have fun using a clever new app that identifies plants and trees. Who knew?

I decided to roam the streets myself to get a sense of who lives here, what kind of small businesses want to come to Claremont, and who the business owners are. Roaming is fun, and hopefully my math is close enough; in the narrow sense of Village mom-and-pop retail businesses, I counted 56. Walking by each was fun, and catching the neighborhood vibes was equally exhilarating. I even met Geniece, the lovely owner of Whisky Loves Basil.

Surely, people are happier, healthier, and wealthier in a walkable neighborhood. There are studies about this kind of thing. I don’t know about all of those points — you be the judge on that one — but I do know exercise, fresh air, and not stressing about finding parking spaces can be good for you.

Perhaps folks, like our couple above, could park more remotely and walk into the village? Surely it takes more time, but looking for a parking spot can be time consuming as well, and frustrating.  I know we value time. Not too long ago, a friend told me she would shop in the village for certain things, but she had to order online or find a bigger store if they didn’t have what she was looking for. All true.

Last week, I met a gardener with an interesting perspective (it is Claremont, after all). She said the impact of our choices shifts our value system. I would have liked her to talk more about that because she is a person who is living out her convictions. Her garden was sustainable. She used organic and locally sourced materials, etc. It was right out of Claremont’s Sustainable Earth Day playbook. Thank you, Claremont, for providing resources and workshops in our area.

It seems to come down to the choices we make every day, which include time, money, and resources. It also includes a vision and a personal responsibility for doing something that might seem like it doesn’t make a difference. Salmon upstream?

As promised, I want to write about one enterprise at a time, to shed light on places you may have missed or perhaps not been aware of their services. But alas and alack, I have run out of space, and that will be the subject of next month’s letter.


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