Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Village: Kenney Place, Edina, MN

My mind whirls imaging what life in Samoa is like and more specifically what life in my Samoan village is like. I read about Samoa's geography, economics, climate, history, and culture. The usual suspects. At the same time, I find myself asking what is life like in my own village, Edina, MN. I live here. I am a part of it. But how do I describe it to others, to Samoans?

A state Garrison Keillor depicts as having a certain smugness about being "slightly above average". This is true regarding the yardsticks Minnesotan's chose by which to be measured. Income, ACT scores, longevity, home ownership, mental health counselors,and low temperatures are all above the national average. Our most famous creative native son artist, Bob Dylan, chose to leave and never to return (He did recant for a concert while in his 60's).

Edina is a first ring suburb southwest of Minneapolis. It is sometimes affectionately referred to by its own residents as, "The Cake Eaters", or "The Town You Love to Hate". Here the term "slightly above average" or attending to the University of Minnesota means failure. It is Minnesota's mother lode for future lawyers, doctors, and scions of business. The high school boasts of over 100 state sport championships (No other school comes close). Indulgences for high school students such as the $70,000 all night graduation party, proms featured in "The New York Times Magazine", and a huge student parking problem, all reflect the city's greater sense of having arrived.

Kenney Place:
Kenney Place is my street, more correctly a "cul-de-sac", and whose entrance is marked by a "Dead End" sign. It consists of seven houses. If residents of City of Edina consider themselves greatly above average, than the residents of Kenney Place consider themselves Elite, but not Ultra-Elite.

I read that Samoan society is very communal with very tight relationships. How do I relate to them what it is like to live in a village where isolation from neighbors is the norm?

For example, over the past twenty years:
Kenney Place residents have never gathered all together at any time for any event or occasion.
A long time resident just moved without saying goodbye or being said goodbye to, whose children I have never met, nor to whose house I have never been nor they in mine.
Of the six other houses, I have never been to three , two once, and the other five times.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Maybe it is best to not even try to relate " The Way" in my village to "The Samoan Way". I can't be what I have just described above. Maybe I should get some sleep.

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