Improving a neighborhood can feel like trying to resurrect the Titanic, but in reality it’s more like flipping a burger with a family next door. When our prime focus is only on the problems in a community, it can start to feel discouraging and we give up, thinking “I don’t have the time or energy,” or “I can’t do this by myself”, or “I don’t even know where to begin.” I’d like to suggest though that the beginning point for strengthening a neighborhood is really about small every day choices rather than planning big events or programs.
Strengthening a community simply recognizes that relationships rather than high fences are what is most important. The truth is you do not need ample time, money, grey hair, or incredible leadership skills to make a difference in your tract. You only need to be attentive to your surroundings and intentional in some very practical ways. This is about a mindset, a lifestyle, a paradigm to live from.
Connecting with neighbors can be something very natural and it happens over time. It is not something that you have to plan for per se or worry about adding to your busy schedule. Below are some practical tips to connect (or re-connect) with neighbors:
- Sit out in your front yard or on your porch
- Wave to passersby and say “hello” to people
- Introduce yourself to new residents
- Find a resident to exercise with
- Volunteer to collect mail while your neighbor is gone
- Borrow a tool or ask for advice
- Keep your yard well kept
- Invite a few neighbors to holiday parties
- BBQ in your front yard with one other household
- Do an Easter egg hunt for your street
- Take regular walks (remember – dogs and kids are conversation magnets)
- Exchange phone numbers with your neighbors in case of an emergency
Most of life in a neighborhood consists of non-glamorous regular moments, but these small instances present opportunity for connection and are the building blocks for the future. Mother Teresa once said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Now go and do small things.
What tips do you have to connect with neighbors?
NOTE: The entry above comes from a series I wrote in 2008, entitled “Community Building 101?. If you are interested in reading the series, you can download a PDF file HERE. You may wonder why an article on community building is showing up on a real estate appraisal blog. Well, this happens to be one of my big passions in life, but also the series could be helpful for some of us and maybe even Agents who are selling houses to first-time buyers in the Sacramento area. This series is one way to bring on conversation about what it can look like to increase a sense of connectivity in our neighborhoods. Living in a more vibant community makes a house feel more like home, huh?