In the neighborhood where we work, residents do not have much space for a yard. The churchyard is about 4 feet by 20 feet and that is probably the only yard space in the immediate community.
The median between street lanes and space between the sidewalk and the street, however, has been put to good use by the neighborhood inhabitants. For example, even though a section of the median is used as a small landfill, about 100 feet away there is a stretch of concrete about 4 feet by 30 feet that has been taken over by elderly men in the community. One gentleman is out by 6:30 most mornings checking out “their” space. He will look for trash, pull a weed, and about once a week bring a bottle of liquid that he uses to scrub any stains on the concrete slab. He sits and “protects” the area until his buddies arrive an hour or two later. Someone brings the card table and dominoes and the rest of the morning is spent determining the domino champion.
One morning I was on the sidewalk waiting for a ride when I noticed a man across the street bringing out a birdcage from his home. I saw a bird in the cage, and as I watched, the man went to a young tree that was surrounded by a lattice. The man opened a door built into the lattice and inserted the cage. I could barely see a platform for the cage as he closed the door and walked away. The bird had an outdoor home during the day even though his owner had only a street front apartment and no yard.
I never think of conserving space or making better use of the space I have in the United States. But when your space is limited, you see what space you do have in a different light.
As Joseph Campbell wrote, “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” I am inspired by the way people find ways to find themselves again and again. Once we find ourselves, we are more equipped to help others.