Cultivating Connections

Read this letter from Editor Caitlin Wilson emphasizing the need for community, neighbors, connections and communication.

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Caitlin Wilson

Community has been on my mind lately. After I mentioned my failure to find a reliable source of saffron, several of you reached out to share information about nurseries you’ve bought it from, and your own experiences growing it. There’s been the same outpouring of advice and support about my upcoming foray into keeping chickens. (Check out “Mail Call” for some excellent advice to new chicken owners.) It’s a lucky editor who gets to be part of the Grit community and share in the knowledge you’ve all collected over the years.

Those of you who’ve been around for the last few issues know that I’m a townie. Since moving to my house, I can — and have — tossed bags of okra over the fence to my nearest neighbors. (Folks, I played soccer. My throwing arm is not that good!) The women who live on either side of me have encouraged me as I turn sod here, there, and everywhere for new garden beds. We’ve swapped cuttings and whole plants, recipes for good pickles, and stories about our dogs’ antics.

The man living behind me keeps his lawn beautifully mowed all summer, and if I let mine get shaggy, he offers to help. The post-digging shovel he gave me has set every fencepost I’ve installed over the last two years. If I ever manage a watermelon harvest, he’ll have first pick of the crop.

Another neighbor whose yard abuts mine has young kids, who always run up to the fence to ask what I’m growing and what it’ll look like when it blooms. The eldest got permission to come help dig the garden bed closest to their yard, and was delighted to learn that some worms are iridescent in sunlight. I’ll make sure to plant flowers where those kids can reach to pick them, and maybe this will be the year they succeed in befriending my dog Peanut, who isn’t sure about children.

Last fall, the family across the street dropped a note on my doorstep introducing themselves, and apologizing for not doing it sooner. Whenever the weather permits fireside grilling, we’re hoping to spend an evening getting to know each other better. In the meantime, I bagged up a batch of cookies to leave on their porch with my reply.

When I chose my house, I had no way to inspect the community I’d be joining. What a joy to find that I’ve landed among generous people. As we come closer to the height of summer, I’d like to hear about your communities. How do you make and maintain the connections that bring you together with the people around you? Write to me at, and we’ll share as many of your responses as we can in the magazine.

See you in July,

Caitlin Wilson, Group Editor