We only know a few of our neighbors, after eighteen years; it's a very conservative community and we're a "non-traditional" couple. Yet the folks we've actually met, we like. Get-togethers are rare; if you aren't going to the local church (ours is in town) you aren't going to be invited to the parties. We have friends over regularly but they are mostly from the urban center, twenty minutes away via gasoline.
One way to get to know people is to join the Neighborhood Watch and attend meetings. We plan to do that but, uhhh, we've not yet discovered when and where those are. But it's a potential starting point. I have heard that our local one was started because many of the young people being raised around here have reached the age where it's cool to raid your buddies' parents' house for stuff. A phase; they'll grow out of it, we hope. Stony Run doesn't seem to be part of that loop at present, thank goodness.
Meanwhile, it's fun to speculate on what might happen around here if neighbors were suddenly forced to rely on those in their immediate surroundings for survival.
It's an exercise we can recommend. Do a walk tour or a bike tour (Cowboy did his on horseback, which he discovered opens up conversations) and see what's out there. Where's the water? The timber? Stone, gravel? Good soil? What kinds of buildings are there? Who's advertising their skills as home businesses? What's growing? What could be grown? How adaptable are the various properties? Here's a three-mile bike loop with a few notes on what's to be seen.
There are a number of nurseries; most of them seem to specialize in shrubs and small trees for landscaping, with some focus on things like blueberries and fruit trees. Orcharding was tried a couple of generations ago, and there was extensive dairying and truck farming as well. None of these pays at present. The vegetables and fruits all come from California and dairying is over-regulated and under-paid. The area is zoned agricultural and everyone is happy with that; but with so few actually farming, the impression one has is that folks are waiting out the strange economy, hoping to get back into farming "someday."
So, what did we learn? a) It's really beautiful around here. b) There's somewhat of a culture gap between Stony Run and its surroundings, but everyone is kindly towards those around them, skilled, and sensible. c) We're not ruining or developing the land as much as one might see elsewhere, and it should retain its tilth for some time to come. This is kind of surprising given the incentive to develop -- four acres, a double-wide house and horse barn are on offer around the corner for over $250,000. d) Potential for sustainable community subsistence is immense -- given the means to assure water supply to all these acreages in the long rainless summers -- but almost completely untapped and likely to remain so.
What this neighborhood really is, is a kind of privately held land bank.
While it's sad (and ultimately dangerous) that the county we live in gets 95% of its food from elsewhere, and there are one billion underfed people in the world, and economics leads this neighborhood into pretty much ignoring the short-term situation, the upside is that future generations may be glad all this soil around here remained intact.