The small-town neighborhood feel, for many, is the American Dream. But for residents of the Historic Poplar Lawn neighborhood in Petersburg, Virginia, it’s a dream come true. “What we have in Poplar Lawn, ” says Madonna Dersch, “Is the quintessential ‘Main Street, USA’ community: people visiting on their porches over a glass of sweet tea, neighbors […]
The small-town neighborhood feel, for many, is the American Dream. But for residents of the Historic Poplar Lawn neighborhood in Petersburg, Virginia, it’s a dream come true.
“What we have in Poplar Lawn, ” says Madonna Dersch, “Is the quintessential ‘Main Street, USA’ community: people visiting on their porches over a glass of sweet tea, neighbors helping neighbors, and the community maintaining their neighborhood. Where do you find this, outside of a Norman Rockwell painting?”
It was Ms. Dersch’s observations written in an essay submission to Edy’s Slow Churned Neighborhood Salute essay contest that got the attention of the Edy’s judges, and an ice cream block party for Poplar Lawn Neighborhood.
The Edy’s Slow Churned Neighborhood Salute awards 1,500 ice cream block parties nationwide as a chance for neighbors to get together, on Edy’s, to have a block party and get to know each other. Parties are awarded to neighborhoods based on essays written by members of the community.
Poplar Lawn’s winning essay was written by Madonna Dersch, one of association’s outgoing board members, in April when the board of the Historic Poplar Lawn Association was initially brainstorming ways to promote the neighborhood and be inclusive of new neighbors.
“We just thought it would be a great idea to have neighbors, both new and long-time residents, write about why they love Poplar Lawn,” explained Ms. Dersch, whose favorite ice cream flavor is Rocky Road, “That our neighborhood was actually chosen as a recipient of a neighborhood ice cream party is the cherry on top.”
The block party for the members of the Poplar Lawn neighborhood will be held this summer. No doubt, the ice cream will be a welcome treat in the summer’s heat.
The winning essay appears below.
Nestled in the middle of downtown historic Petersburg, Virginia, Poplar Lawn boasts a lovely historic park, gorgeous old homes, and some of the friendliest fun-loving neighbors you’ll ever meet.
The neighbors in Poplar Lawn, a nationally registered historic neighborhood, are not only friendly but also community-minded. In addition to Neighborhood Watch and a very active neighborhood association, Poplar Lawn works to keep neighbors in contact through phone calls, flyers and an email distribution list as well as with a blog.
Lively conversation and wit on the blog and in neighborhood meetings is often inspired by local government, community projects and the trials and joys of being a part of a redeveloping urban community. Everyone’s opinion is welcome to be expressed, and at the end of the day, regardless of opposing opinions, the neighbors are always friendly to one another.
The neighborhood is a lovely walking community, and people visit on the porches in the warm months, often offering a glass of sweet tea or lemonade. Several neighbors throw themed parties, encouraging everyone to dress up. The neighborhood association has even hosted an Oktoberfest and a holiday party that featured belly dancers.
The neighborhood also works to serve its community by restoring and preserving historic spaces, maintaining and patrolling a centrally located park and participating in civic activities like a city-wide food drive, planting gardens in public spaces and participating in local clean-up days.
Since nearly everyone in the neighborhood is restoring historic homes, neighbors always chip in to help each other out when something goes awry during construction, or when neighbors need encouragement. We celebrate community successes and joys and mourn community losses, a built-in support system during times of both birth and passing. The neighbors are all very generous and work to welcome new members as well as check-in with long-time residents with friendly conversation and baked treats or some tomatoes from the garden.
Historic Poplar Lawn in Petersburg, Virginia is beautiful and historic, yes, but its charm and life come from its neighbors.