February 8, 2011

Building a Stronger Community: Get to Know Your Neighbors

This post originally appeared on my community-building blog, The World We Wish For, but since I'm hoping there are some new readers here, I decided I would repost some of these tips.

Neighbors. Most of us have them; many of us don't even know their names. It's not that hard to understand. We're so busy running from one place to another, and so are they, that no one has time to stop and talk. At the same time we're running around, we're lamenting the disconnect in society. We're sad that the "good ol' days" of block parties and neighborhood kids playing together seem to have gone the way of tomato aspic and jello molds. We also cite safety concerns. How many times have you heard, or thought, "What do we really know about the people living around us?"

I offer you a solution: meet the people who live around you! What better way to reconnect as a society and alleviate those safety issues. Heck, once you get to know your neighbors, your safety will improve. Imagine two, four, six or more additional pairs of eyes keeping a lookout for suspicious activity. Your kids are "bored"? How easy is it to send them next door to find out if the neighbor's child can play for a bit.

I know my neighbors. My son has spent hours playing with the boy next door who is near his age. The elderly couple across the street is always happy to visit and let you know if something suspicious has happened in the neighborhood and the retired police officer who lives diagonally from me is not only a source of security, he has been known to mow our lawn when we go on vacation!

Am I glad I know my neighbors? Absolutely. Do I feel better about the street I live on because I know some of the people who share it with me? You bet. Am I going to start making jello molds for a block party? Well, probably not, but you never know. Stranger things have happened!


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