Exciting Bachelor Weekend for RPGDad

My wife and baby are out of town, so I have an exciting bachelor weekend planned!

A. Relax and drink olive oil (1)
B. Read a book (2)
C. Mop! (3)

Yes, gaming is also planned! I really need to playtest some Noble Armada 😀

(1) This is a great way to treat gall stones. Fast, drink olive oil and relax, and the body flushes them out. I had my first gall stone attack 30 years ago, but discovering the olive oil flush has kept me from needing my gall bladder cut out.
(2) I read a LOT of books with Sage, but this book is longer than 10 pages
(3) The excitement of this opportunity needs no explanation to the parent of any child!

Working on Her A-B-Ls

One of RPGBaby’s favorite words is “work,” and she actually gets upset with her if we don’t let her work when she asks. She currently has a variety of Word docs she is turning into masterpieces of 19-month old toddlerese. She especially impressed me today by not only turning on her computer herself but also repeatedly using the mouse to highlight the file on which she wanted to “work.”

I had wondered if “working” on a traditional QWERTY keyboard would confuse her learning the alphabet, but she is putting those fears to rest. Yesterday she made it from A-L in the Alphabet Song without any help, and can now complete the whole alphabet if I sing it at the same time as she. Of course, that does not mean she recognizes the letters yet – just the ability to sing a song.

What is Tucker? Part 3: Ability to be Left Alone

Image from MC Granite Countertops

Ability to be Left Alone

In my last post, I talked about how one of Tucker’s characteristics is how easy it is to get to know your neighbors. An equally important characteristic is how easily it is to get people to leave you alone. A lot of folks moved to unincorporated Tucker specifically to avoid being bothered. People in Tucker are approachable, but they are not going to force themselves on you.

There is an old adage that I agree with, that “people want to know your business when they have no business of their own worth knowing.” Tucker may not be the city too busy to hate, but it is an active city with much to do, and even more to do outside of city limits.

I have lived in a handful of Tucker neighborhoods since the mid 90s and worked in a number of others. One characteristic I have found true throughout the city limits is that people’s’ desire to know about you directly corresponds to your willingness to approach them. There might be an initial hello, but if you do not make an effort to move things past that point, already-established residents will not push the point.

If you want to put forth that effort, then that Tucker friendliness I discussed in Part 2 kicks in. Otherwise, they are perfectly happy to leave you alone. When I first moved to Tucker, I rented a house in an older neighborhood. I was head down in starting a new business (located half a mile from the house I was renting), and had no time or energy to devote to neighborhood matters.

Neighbors would wave, but I almost never spoke to them. About a decade later I moved back into a different house in the same neighborhood, but had more time for community matters. The same neighbors still lived there, and when I approached them, they were more than happy to talk and involve me in their activities. As long as I wanted to be left alone, however, they were glad to oblige.

A number of people I know bought homes in Tucker specifically to avoid over-active homeowner associations and restrictive neighborhood covenants. Now that Tucker is a city, there will probably be more concern over code violations than when it was unincorporated DeKalb County. However, since the city is still finding its bearing, I suspect code enforcement will not prove overbearing.

It has been clear to me that a trait of Tuckerites is their willingness to respect other people’s privacy. Has that been your experience as well?

What is Tucker? Part 2: Just Plain Neighborly

The Ability to Get to Know Your Neighbors

At a holiday party this weekend, a friend who lives east of Stone Mountain talked about doing his gift shopping in Lilburn and Snellville. As he walked between shops, his attempts to greet people with “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays” or even just “Hi” were met with dour looks. He blamed it on holiday stress, but this is not an experience I ever have on Main Street Tucker.

People in Tucker are often described as “approachable,” “neighborly,” “friendly,” etc. They stop and talk in their yards, on their streets, in stores, at community events and anywhere Tuckerites gather. One of my neighbors, a retired lady even older than myself, works out at the same gym that I occasionally haunt. She and I generally chat there (okay, I gossip, she chats), but such interchanges began well before we found out about the gym connection.

I have certainly lived in communities, both in Atlanta and elsewhere, where such ease of interaction was not the norm. In such neighborhoods, approaching a neighbor was clearly suspect, even if you had been aware of each other for months.

This is not to say that people in Tucker do not have their own level of caution. Strangers of any race or gender are likely to be met with wariness in most neighborhoods. However, once someone is identified as a resident, that tends to change.

In fact, many neighborhoods are happy for an infusion of new blood. I have heard this refrain at numerous community meetings around Tucker, and heard these exact words again last week: “We need more young people to move here.” My neighborhood has Tuckerites who also identify as Indians, Muslims, and Bhutanese, in addition to the more traditional backgrounds most people associate with the city.

There are also a variety of mechanisms in place to help people who want to meet their neighbors. These include the community events on Main Street, a host of Tucker organizations, an active rec center, and more than a few long-term nightspots that attract customers from here and elsewhere.

Of course, there is also the corresponding right to avoid all these, which I will address in my next post.

What was the best way you met your neighbors?

What is Tucker? Part 1: That Small Town Feel

THIS POST IS MY PERSONAL OPINION AND NOT THAT OF ANY ORGANIZATION TO WHICH I BELONG.

Whenever Tuckerites gather, there always seems to a discussion of what Tucker actually means to them. I’ve heard plenty of people talk about maintaining Tucker’s character as the main reason they voted for cityhood. I had this happen again at a dinner Saturday. Getting people to define what Tucker’s character is, however, is not easy. I think I have managed to extract a number of characteristics that often come up in these conversations, and I would love to hear your thoughts. These characteristics are:

  1. Small-town feel
  2. Ability to get to know your neighbors
  3. Ability to be left alone
  4. Civic participation/engagement
  5. Established community – not one being developed
  6. Commercial and cultural opportunities
  7. Desirability – walkable, social, convenient, etc.
  8. EDIT, courtesy of Christy Robnett Atkins: I would add Tucker’s historic resources. Many of these may be unknown or just not yet identified as the gems they are, because they have been there for so long. They really help Tucker’s sense of place, and appeal to old and new residents alike. These include Main Street of course, Johns Homestead, Browning Courthouse, Tucker Recreation Center (formerly Tucker Elementary School), the old Andrews House (currently Wade’s Vans), lots of wonderful houses from the early 20th century, and so many awesome mid-century neighborhoods.

I want to go into more detail on these over the next few weeks, and will start now with that “small-town feel.” This is probably the most common characteristic I hear in these conversations – Tucker feels like a small town despite being so close to Atlanta. There are certainly smaller cities closer to Atlanta – Pine Lake, East Point, Avondale Estates, for instance – but it is the small town feel that seems to matter more than it actually being a small town.

Some of the other characteristics I mention above are part of that small-town feel, especially the ability to get to know your neighbors, but other traits really come into play here. They include:

  1. Locally owned businesses. Yes, we have a Walmart and plenty of fast food joints, but we also have locally owned restaurants, Tucker Pet Store, Cofer, Ace Hardware, the Tucker Mattress Company, and a host of others you would not expect to find in a bigger city. Tucker also has a lot of industrial area (about which I will talk later), some of which houses locally owned businesses.
  2. City center. Main Street has been a destination for decades, even if just for Matthews Cafeteria. However, it is also ground zero for civic events, the farmer’s market and more actives that draw people from all three Tucker districts.
  3. Greenery. Everyone I talk to wishes we had more trees, but they are grateful for what we do have. Parks are a key part of this, but the trees along our stream buffers, in neighborhoods, and even in industrial areas help us feel we are distant from the stereotypical grayness of a city.
  4. Established neighborhoods. Many of our neighborhoods have residents who have been living there for decades. While newcomers are welcome, there is an existing identity as well as a wealth of local knowledge that such longevity provides. In addition, a number of our neighborhoods have members of the same family living in multiple houses, also making it feel more tight knit.
  5. Ability to know Tucker’s political leaders. You may not always agree with them, but our city council members, mayor and the like are approachable and easy to talk to. They engage in conversations before and after meetings, and some are especially active on social media. I certainly recommend contacting them if an issue concerns you. However, you can also meet them before such an issue arises, so that when one does, the lines of communication are already open.

Does Tucker feel like a small town to you? What makes it feel that way to you – or keeps it from feeling that way if it does not?