Image via Wikipedia We live such disconnected lives nowadays. We commute long distances to work, we work long hours, we barely have enough time for our family let alone our neighbourhood. But by neglecting our most immediate community connections we lose an invaluable support network, we miss out on the opportunity to forge great friendships, to create a safe environment for our kids to play in and to have the sense of really belonging that comes with being a contributing member of the neighbourhood.
It seems that neighbourliness is a lost art. And it shows in the graffiti on fences and buildings, in the litter on the street, in the lonliness of people who live surrounded by other lonely people in our cities and towns. But its not so hard to be neighbourly. All it takes is to slow down a little and make an effort.
When was the last time you stopped to chat with someone who lives in your street? If its been a while, then perhaps its time to get to know your neighbours and rebuild your neighbourhood! Check out the list below for some ideas to get you started.
1. Be welcoming
It sounds corny, I know, but take the time to welcome new families to your neighbourhood. Think of the things that they may need to know - like when the rubbish is collected, if there are any neighbourhood playgroups or youth groups, where the local parks, libraries, recreation facilities are. You could even come up with a Welcome pack to present to new families with all that info.
2. Meet your neighbours
If you don't know the people that live around you, make a point of getting to know them. You could organise a get together for the neighbourhood in the local park, or simply make the effort to smile and say hello when you see people on the street.
3. Share with your neighbours
Share your skills, the bounty of your garden, your time, your possessions . . . it can take time to build a sense of trust but it has to start somewhere and it might as well be with you.
4. Encourage neighbourhood pride
Organise a group of neighbours to pick up litter from the sidewalk or to clean up the local park, take action to eliminate graffiti. It may only be a few of you at first, but its amazing the difference in people's attitude towards their neighbourhood once it starts to look like someone cares.
5. Support your Community
Support local business and recreation facilities, they can be a real rallying point and source of pride for your neighbourhood.