Be Neighborly (And Bake Some Cookies)
"Hi our names are Reetu and Jeremy and we are your new neighbors from down the street. We just wanted to introduce ourselves and give you some chocolate chip cookies we made!"
With several packages of homemade cookies and smiles on our faces, my wife and I embarked on a neighborhood 'expedition' to meet our neighbors. And we hoped the cookies would make our door-knocking appear less weird.
The goal: to simply meet our neighbors.
In today's world, it's rare to find anyone who can name the neighbors who surround them geographically. In such a connected and (social) networked culture, we have lost the art of being neighborly. Of building relationships with those who are, geographically, closest to us.
Being a neighbor - and making a difference in your community - doesn't have to be some large undertaking, but it can often be pretty intimidating. Meeting new people is a bit scary. But you can start by taking one small step. And then another small step. And then another. And it can take off from there!
From our own experiences over the last few years in our neighborhood (along with what we've learned from others), here are 4 tips to help you meet your neighbors and become a more engaged neighborhood resident.
- Have a Yard Sale: What better way to meet your neighbors than to provide an incentive for them to journey into your front yard! (And yes, do it in the front yard. Back yard sales are just weird.) Some neighborhoods make this even easier by having a designated yard sale dale on a particular Saturday/Sunday during the warmer seasons. If your neighborhood does that, you can meet neighbors in your front yard OR you can go to them and get to talk with a neighbor - all for the price of 75 cents for a VHS tape! It's a non-intimidating way to have neighborly conversations.
- Go to the Wells: Another way to get to meet your neighbors and get more involved in the neighborhood is to go where people congregate. And this will look different in every neighborhood. It might be a local coffee shop, a library, a restaurant, a park, or a laundromat. Like people in a desert desperate for water, there are 'wells' where people congregate in every community. Find the ones in your neighborhood and invest time in frequenting that place and meeting the 'regulars'. Better yet, become one of the 'regulars'.
- Attend Neighborhood Meetings: What better way to get a feel for the heartbeat of the community than by attending neighborhood association/action meetings. You can meet deeply invested and engaged neighbors while also learning about any current news or future events in the community.
- Walk: One great way that Reetu and I have found to meet neighbors during the warmer months has been to go on nightly walks around the neighborhood. We pick a few blocks and walk a few laps around after dinner and before sunset. It's an easy way to get some exercise and it helps us 'run' into lots of our neighbors!
(And of course, baking cookies and going door-to-door is a great idea too. But, personally, I find that the four ideas above put less butterflies in my stomach when I think about doing them. Make your first step easy so that you can make sure you actually do it.)
It boils down to finding ways to be intentional and getting involved in your community.
It's a great way to meet neighbors, make friends, and help improve your neighborhood.
This is a short list, so share below other ways we can all be more neighborly. (And definitely include any great food recipes!)