Will Coronavirus Bring Back the Lost Joys of Neighborhood Community?


With shelter-in-place orders across the country, families are spending way more time at home.

And being marooned at home has produced one positive side effect. In my experience, the pandemic has served to bring neighbors closer together.

I’ve lived in my neighborhood for almost 16 years. Quiet is the best description of my area—sometimes eerily quiet. Whenever my family visits from out of town, they’re surprised by how quiet it is. And I don’t live out in the boonies or in a planned community with restrictive HOA rules. I live about 20 minutes west of Atlanta in an older suburban neighborhood with large yards.

Since I work from home, I’m familiar with the daily rhythms of my neighborhood. Pre-pandemic, I could count on one hand how many people I saw walking around the neighborhood on a given day. There are a few of us regular walkers, some kids my children play with, and the handful of people who work on their yards. Heck, I recognize hired gardeners more than I would some of my neighbors.

A month or so ago, area businesses began arrangements for employees to work from home. My state was slow to declare a shelter-in-place order, but the county ordered nonessential businesses to close in mid-March. I figured since most people in my neighborhood rarely come outdoors, there’d be little change as people started working from home. I figured the work-from-home crowd would remain on teleconferences and stay cooped up all day.

But as March wore on, I noticed more and more neighbors out and about—while maintaining social distance. On my morning walks with my dogs, I came across people I’d never seen before. I mean, I was sure they lived here, but obviously they rarely came out of their homes.

I passed a young woman who said, “Hi, Ms. Wolfe!” I did a double take—did I know her? I smiled and waved. It took me 30 minutes to place her face. It was the “little girl” who lived across the street. Only now she was a grown woman. When did that happen? Had it really been that many years since I last saw someone who literally lives a few yards away?

I remember watching “The Sandlot” with my eldest son a few years ago. One scene stood out to him: the Fourth of July neighborhood cookout where the tables are set out and the kids wander around and grab food before they head to their night baseball game.

“Is that real?” my son asked. “Are there neighborhoods where everyone cooks out and hangs together?”

Once upon a time, yes, I told him. People spent more time at home and actually interacted with their neighbors. And before you correct me—in some places of the country, that sense of community still exists. But in my immediate area, people commuted to far-away jobs and spent precious nonwork hours shuttling kids to a number of activities. On weekends, neighbors would relax within the comforts of their own homes. With busy lives, there was little time to really get to know your neighbors.

Now, neighbors have emerged from their homes and chatted with me—again, from a safe distance. My once-quiet neighborhood was alive, a community buzzing with activity. Neighbors are checking in with one another and making sure the older members of our community have what they need.

In 2009, my neighborhood experienced a 100-year flood. That was the first (and last, up until this month) time I witnessed a community come together in the face of tragedy. Neighbors helped neighbors clean up, gather supplies, and slowly rebuild our neighborhood.

Sadly, we resumed our individual routines and holed up in our homes. But this time around I have a different feeling. I know that we may have lost touch over the years, but I see the resurgence of my neighborhood banding together to make sure we are all safe.

My community is not unique; neighborhoods across the country are experiencing the same connection. My friends and family are experiencing small acts of kindness and sharing them on social media.

My friend Barb posted, “My daughter and her kids chalked messages on the street in front of their house that the neighbors loved!”

Sidewalk art
Sidewalk art

Barb Rosen

My other friend Stephanie shared how she and her son painted rocks with uplifting messages and are sharing them around her neighborhood.

Message rock
Message rock

Stephanie Rose

My fellow dog-rescue buddy Jade leaves snacks out daily for anyone in need.

Snacks for neighbors
Snacks for neighbors

Jade Gentry

I’ve seen the emergence of Facebook groups dedicated to demonstrating how people are spreading love in their communities during social distancing. The Heart Hunters group shares photos of hearts that people across the country are putting in their windows to spread a little joy to passersby.

Other neighborhoods are putting up Christmas lights, and school teachers are paying drive-by visits to their students.

So is the coronavirus pandemic causing a resurgence of the tight-knit community? I would say a qualified yes.

In a time of need, scams and complaints over hoarding, price gouging, and self-interest will always be present. But I choose to focus on how it’s brought out the best in people in my neighborhood. We may not ever get to the point of holding community cookouts once the pandemic fizzles out, but I know that when I need my neighbors, they will be there.



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Upstate New York Round House Is a ‘Rare Architectural Delight’


If you have a love of geometry, why pass up a chance to own a totally round house?

Located way upstate, this Victor, NY, home, listed for $595,000, is a famously curvy local landmark with an interesting past.

For what it’s worth, the Round House all started with a triangle. In 1966, before it rolled onto the property, an A-frame home was constructed on the 10-acre plot. Now attached to the back of the round residence, the original one-bedroom A-frame gives off a rustic and cool ski chalet vibe.

The main structure on the property was built in 1982. No one knows the inspiration for the circular addition, although some locals speculate that the owners who commissioned the place saw a round house somewhere and wanted one of their very own.

The listing details for the distinctive dwelling call it an “incredibly rare architectural delight.”

Original A-frame portion of the home
Original A-frame portion of the home

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A-frame interior, with ski chalet vibes
A-frame interior, with ski chalet vibes

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The great room in the Round House
The great room in the Round House

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Kitchen in the Round House
Kitchen in the Round House

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Quite apart from its shape, the home’s most significant feature may be the windows.

“The vertical windows that are all around the front of it were the leftover windows from the construction of the Xerox Tower building, which is up in Rochester,” explains Wilma Townsend, curator at the Ontario County Historical Society.

Despite its interesting architecture, the owners walked away from the home in 1997, after a divorce. The home sat abandoned until 2002. During that time, the home was vandalized and used as a party venue by local teenagers.

The Round House was put up for auction by the county, and in 2002, a new family purchased the home, along with land, for $88,000.

The current owners completely renovated the interior and have transformed the residence into a distinct and dramatic inspiring work of architecture, inside and out.

It features a stately two-story grand room, flanked by a pair of grandiose cascading staircases. Standout spaces include a large gourmet kitchen, formal dining room, and exterior patio area.

All told, the house has seven bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms. With 7,500 square feet of living space, it has enough room for a large family. Depending on a buyer’s desire, it could also potentially be used as a retreat rental or a bed-and-breakfast. The town of Victor is situated right between Rochester and the Finger Lakes region.

And if the interiors aren’t impressive enough, there are 10 acres outside to explore. Featuring a private pond and woods, the property is a true sanctuary for outdoor lovers.



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Seahawks’ Mike Iupati Sells Arizona Home With Pro Sports Pedigree


Former Arizona Cardinals guard Mike Iupati recently unloaded his Tuscan-style resort home in Phoenix for $1.45 million, about $50,000 shy of his original asking price.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the hulking offensive lineman was the fourth professional athlete to own the home over the last decade or so. Given the number of pro athletes the home has attracted, chances are that the recent buyer is a baller of some sort.

The roster of owners of the 5,570-square-foot home includes former NFL quarterback Matt Leinart, NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire, and former NFL guard Daryn Colledge.

Now playing for the Seattle Seahawks, Iupati purchased the home in 2015 for $1.365 million.

Wrought-iron accents adorn the staircase.
Wrought-iron accents adorn the staircase.

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Greek columns add drama to the dining and living space.
Greek columns add drama to the dining and living space.

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The lush landscape gives the home the feel of a resort.
The lush landscape gives the home the feel of a resort.

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The backyard features a patio, pool, and boulder slide.
The backyard features a patio, pool, and boulder slide.

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The five-bedroom home sits on an acre of land and is located about 30 miles from the stadium of the University of Phoenix. It features many custom finishes, including tile floors, dramatic pillars, a sweeping staircase, a two-story great room, wrought-iron accents, a dining room under a tray ceiling, and a family room with a fireplace.

The outside of the home resembles a luxe resort, with its lush landscaping, dining patio, and a pool with a spa, grotto, and boulder slide.

Iupati is from American Samoa, and his family had moved to California by the time he entered high school. He later attended the University of Idaho, where he was an All-American before being drafted by the 49ers in 2010. He played five seasons with the 49ers and four with the Arizona Cardinals, and has racked up four Pro Bowl appearances in 10 seasons.



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