Horse Balm and Hard Work

Boulder Creek Neighbors social network founded by an old-school cowboy with community at heart.

By Julie Horner

Kevin Foster and his rodeo buddy, Billy Ray Coffey, stood tall and lean in front of Jenna Sue’s, chiseled, well-tanned faces shaded by crisp cowboy hats. Both men seemed naturally compelled to greet passersby – with a gentleman’s nod, touch to the brim, and a genuine “howdy ma’am” – eliciting bemused smiles and reciprocated pleasantry. The man with the bucket of fresh-cut flowers was making his morning rounds. In an entirely spontaneous gesture, Kevin bought a cellophaned bouquet of red roses and asked the man to open the bundle and present a single rose to every lady in Oh Suzannah! Hair Designers…and if there were any left, to take them to the lady patrons next door.

“Two years ago, I wouldn’t remember the exact date, I started Boulder Creek Neighbors because I was in some other groups and people were mean and complained to each other. Where I’m from, you’re kind and polite, you don’t swear. My mom would whip my behind if I’d said some foul language or was rude.” He wanted to bring that ethic to his adopted hometown and figured there was another way to bring people together. “People all need to come together out of their little nooks in these mountains regardless their preferences – you’ve got the elderly…the bar people…the church people.” So, Kevin started the Boulder Creek Neighbors group on Facebook to provide a place for “local, nice, positive neighborly Boulder Creek residents and SLV neighbors to socialize and help one another like neighbors should always do, and to stay connected and know what’s going on in our community.”

The first step was to make some guidelines. He wanted it to be friendly, “make sure folks didn’t have rude pictures up, “fippin’ off the camera. Some groups are about drama; we want to use this group to inspire neighbors to put out positive ideas. People are using social media to complain about the world. I want people who see the world as a blessing…it’s raining, whatever, you can turn a bad day into a good one with positive thinking…it’ll grow on you.”

Kevin started the page, and a team of community members act as administrators to help manage posts. “I still check it daily…I got to monitor the moderators. I brought them together…they ask questions about how to handle difficult posts. “I’m willing to be the bad guy in the group to keep it sweet. I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it for 2800 members.”

Boulder Creek Neighbors was one of a handful of social network pages that became a crucial lifeline during recent storms. Members were the first to know when trees and mudslides had closed mountain roads and what the immediate, and often everchanging, workarounds were to get from one place to another.

“Not a lot of people do a good deed anymore without expecting something out of it. BC Neighbors, you do it, and down the road, by putting out the good, down the road someone’s always out there to help you. Small town communities like this, when it comes time, the community shows up…whether it’s plumbing…if there’s branches down and someone needs advice or someone to come help…a little old lady all by herself…whatever the cause. I’ll be paid in pies and cakes all day long…it’s taking care of your neighbors.”

“The helpful stuff, he says, “has really blown up on the page.” He points to all the pets that have been saved. “If I had five dollars for every animal that got found and returned. ‘What neighborhood? Yeah, I just saw your dog running down the street.’”

With Boulder Creek Neighbors, Kevin aims to inspire in the cowboy way. “My bull fightin’ students…I teach bull fightin’ and so forth…I’ve got six thousand followers who look to me as inspirational. In the arena, there’s no time to quit. You ain’t out until you’re knocked out. You’re in there fighting bulls and you stay in there, digging in. There’s always two bull fighters, there’s always one who picks the other up…they have your back.”

“You can strip us all down naked and it’s the actions that identify you. And you can really tell the mindset of someone’s heart by what they post on Facebook. There are a lot of good-hearted folks in our mountains…”

Join Boulder Creek Neighbors: www.facebook.com/groups/bouldercreekneighbors/

Copyright 2017 Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin. This article originally published in the April 2017 Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin print edition. Also online: www.santacruzmountainbulletin.net

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