April 21st, 2020

Neighbors find new ways to connect while keeping their distance

Original article by Bill Lewis for The Tennessean >

Residents of lifestyle communities across the Nashville region are finding ways to practice social distancing while still being sociable and without putting too much distance between neighbors during the coronavirus shutdown.

When one youngster’s birthday celebration was cancelled, for example, neighbors in Hendersonville’s Durham Farms community saved the day.

“Everybody drove by and yelled, ‘Happy birthday!’” said homeowner Karen Poynor.

The pools, clubhouses, fitness centers and other amenities are closed for now, but homeowners in lifestyle neighborhoods like Durham Farms and Millstone in Sumner County and Westhaven in Franklin are discovering ways to maintain a close sense of community.

When the children’s Easter egg hunt was cancelled in Millstone, the whole neighborhood sprang into action to keep the little ones from being disappointed.

Millstone residents placed brightly painted blocks in their yards for kids to discover.

Millstone residents placed brightly painted blocks in their yards for kids to discover. (Photo: Submitted)

Neighbors placed pictures of Easter eggs in their windows and hid brightly painted blocks in their yards.

“That way, when the kids are out they can count the eggs and search for blocks like a treasure hunt. It’s been fun,” said Dennis Coleman.

Residents are taking advantage of orders to shelter in place by thoroughly spring cleaning their homes. But the yard sales that ordinarily result from that can’t be held.

“So people are posting, ‘If you want it, come and get it. It’ll be on my porch,’ ” said Coleman.

Front porches, sidewalks keep neighbors connected

Westhaven employs a traditional neighborhood design with front porches on every home and sidewalks on both side sides of the streets. Those features help residents stay in touch.

“During this time of social distancing, people can have feelings of isolation or disconnection from others. Living in Westhaven allows for that connectivity to continue because you can literally sit on your front porch and chat with someone walking down the sidewalk or your neighbors next door,” said Jan Cooper, vice president of Southern Land Co., which developed Westhaven.

The merchants and restaurants at Westhaven’s Town Center are a short stroll away and are offering gift certificates, takeout and curbside delivery. Or residents can take a longer walk on the more than 8 miles of hillside trails in the community. Fifty percent of the land in Westhaven is designated as open space.

“It’s the prefect community to get outside for fresh air and exercise,” said Cooper.

Food trucks and blood drives

Residents of the region’s lifestyle communities are using social media and HOA websites to keep in touch, but in Durham Farms some homeowners thought of an old fashioned way to communicate.

They took a white rock from the construction site of a new home, placed it in their yard near the sidewalk and invited anyone walking by to write a message. Other homeowners did the same thing.

“People are painting little flags, God bless America,” said Poynor. She and her husband were among the first residents to move into Durham Farms.

Other residents put shamrocks in their windows for St. Patrick’s Day or placed teddy bears around their houses for kids to spot, said Poynor.

Residents are staying engaged in other ways. Chris Page, lifestyle director for Durham Farms, scheduled food trucks to visit the neighborhood. Residents order online and are notified by text when it’s pickup time.

Several dozen residents took part in a photo challenge in which they posted their “happy places” around their homes, said Lacey Edwards, marketing manager for Freehold Communities, the developer of Durham Farms.

Sara Neal participates in the Red Cross blood drive at Durham Farms.

Resident Andrea Owens organized a blood drive for the American Red Cross. Residents scheduled appointments to avoid crowding.

“We collected 23 units, which can save potentially up to 69 lives,” said Owens.

In normal times, Poynor and her neighbors would get together for water aerobics or canasta. That’s not possible right now, but they are making a point of supporting one another.

“You can buy a house anywhere, but you can’t buy your neighbors,” she said. “It’s such a neat neighborhood, like something from a movie.”

Read the original article here >