Definition. Community social processes. This category focuses on inhabitant interactions with the community and the social impact of the public space;
In my block of flats, there are two cat ladies. Each has one castrated tom. So, they live and pamper their cats. One of the cats is so big that he is half of the old gray lady. Oh, and the fat tom’s owner doesn’t take her cat home because he doesn’t like it and her disabled husband has an allergy. If I haven’t seen these cat ladies around the building for a while, I start to get anxious and ask my partner when was the last he had seen them; what if something had happened? Signe
There’s a big chance that neighbours will shake out their rugs through their windows, and very often you could smell the smoke of cigarettes in your flat. And no one cleans after their dogs in the yard. Fitch
If anything happens, you can always ask neighbours for help. At least in my case, as I know my neighbours. Anete
I had a neighbour, who went through the trash. I was always careful when coming in and going out of the building. The stairwell had an unpleasant smell, he looked very scary, and I didn’t feel safe when my parents weren’t home. I remember how my mum once threw out my favourite red trainers. I was so sad… and then I saw them on this neighbour’s kid’s feet. Olga
With time you learn how long people take shower, at what time somebody leaves their flat, how often they take out the trash, do they use the lift or not. How they dress when they are in the neighbourhood, and how when are going to the city centre, etc. Raimonds
I like when I feel people around. It makes me feel safer (of course, it can be otherwise too, but it is very rare). I feel like I’m in public. I’m glad when I hear someone learning to play the piano or an upstairs neighbour throwing a ball for his dog. Sounds don’t bother me really. It makes me feel that I’m living, everyone around me is living, and everything goes further. Honestly, I haven’t lived any other kind of life. Blockhouses have been my home since my childhood. It is my “normal”. Alise
Some people call the police about your car in the yard, which stands there on its own (although it has a permit to be there). Jekabs
We had a humorous neighbour on the same stairwell who dreamt of becoming a seaman. Later he was imprisoned because of weed, and no one ever saw him again. We also had a neighbour couple that often fought and yelled. Once they fought so intensely, we took away the neighbour lady, she was beaten by her husband. Her face was bruised and with blood. She was frightened to go to the police and hospital because she was confused about her looks. It’s a sad story. Marjana
Friends can come by to eat and you can go to them. Stine
I like the feeling of togetherness because you always meet someone, to whom you can talk to. You are never bored. Kristaps
Neighbours who can’t park, get what they deserve. Eliza
When the upstairs flat flooded my flat, the first time ok, fine, it wasn’t on purpose. The second time, it happened for the same reason. Crazy damages and uncomfortable feelings. It was unpleasant. And also, they didn’t come inquiring later if everything was fine. Alise
I liked my life there because it is an actual form of life - based on living together, not isolating somewhere away. Aija
Granny lives in Pļavnieki. In the flat above her lives a woman with three kids. She yells at them every day. Even for such silly things as why the big brothers drank the milk which was meant for the little sister. Evita
I witnessed how drunk people fell from the 4th floor, the fire and the smell of gas. Jana
During a family gathering, someone was ringing the bell. Of course, it was the downstairs neighbours. Also, once I missed school because another neighbour died, and his coffin was put in front of our door. Egusja
There was a time when we knew all the neighbours, and we had visited most of the flats on our stairwell. Ieva
One morning on a working day, there was a hysterical ring by the door. Brother had returned white as a sheet and shouted: “Mum, a man just fell from the stairs.” Mum ran into the stairwell and, the next moment, called an ambulance. I stood there frozen. Heard some fragments of talking – drive here quickly, he fell over the railing; he doesn’t respond, and blood poured from his eyes. The chubby man from the first floor had found an ally on the upper floor. He had stayed late enjoying booze. And early in the morning, heavily breathing, he was coming downstairs to his flat and leaned against the railings, lost his balance, and fell over. The railings were bent out and down by his weight. And that’s how they were left forever. When I go past them, I always recognize: “Oh, this is where he fell over. Therefore, I’m on my floor!” (because everything looked the same on the other floors, and sometimes I got confused if I was on the right floor) The man, in the end, was fine. After some time, mum called the ambulance, apologizing and saying not to come because the man stood up and went to his flat as if nothing had happened. Liga
Every day my upstairs neighbour starts to use his drill at 9 am. At least for ten years already. Each day! Elva

share your experience  share your experience  share your experience  share your experience  share your experience  share your experience  share your experience

share your experience  share your experience  share your experience  share your experience  share your experience  share your experience  share your experience I



by Jānis Ķīnasts

Geography of being home -how the outside makes the inside

“The phenomenon external to an area of interest affects what goes on inside”
Waldo Tobler's second law of geography
vvvv“I propose that there can be no place without bodies and that through the practices of the body - perception (sensory, and memory) - with the socio-material, we make and learn place.” 1      
vvvvWe love our soviet era apartment. Speaking from the perspective of topographic poiesis it means a lot, i.e. this location has transcended its socio-politically loaded past (legacy) and become a nested place of and for the future. We feel whole here. Citing Heidegger I would argue we dwell here, and therefore we have become something more than just residents or inhabitants. We are bound to the “where of here”.
vvvvWe love the layout and the history of it being one of the few purpose-built artist studios in our town. The huge window is the reason we moved here from the capital city. The external landscape beyond the window defines the interior layout. The design imperative of this flat was to gaze outwards. To bring in the landscape perceived as the landscape conceived. The out-side is making the in-side. On which side are we then?
vvvvWe love our neighbors too, but we do not live with them. But by them. They are polite, intelligent, and kind. Whenever we meet there is always a bit more than the usual “Hello”. I really think we actually enjoy each other's presence. But not in our intimate spaces behind the doors. Though it is behind the doors. I also love the fact I can leave my bike unlocked in the stairway and even delivery guys just bring the stuff up and leave them by our doors. The staircase acts like a briefcase.
 vvvvSomehow the things we love about our home are either behind the window or behind the doors. And it makes it even safer and better. The inside stability always emerges from outside dynamics.      
vvvvWe often think of our homes as walled and gated fortresses though in reality “home” is never static and hidden. It flows, it moves, and yet it always invites and grounds us back where we belong - in Being in the World. Home is a nest, not an island.


Jānis is a founder of Cesu Pulversity - a transformative learning place. He helps people create better places by applying environmental geography, design, and philosophy. On the side, he writes and gives lectures about it.

1Tara Page. 2020. Placemaking.
Edinburgh University Press.
← essay