Each One Can
A neighborly community is not necessarily one where people do a lot of activities together, nor are they filled with the kind of close friends who are in and out of each other’s homes. They may have a block party now and again, with great success and yet it may be too much work to repeat too often! A truly neighborly community is one where individuals focus on the many small, simple, sustainable ‘neighborly’ actions that anyone can choose to take at any time, as and when it appeals to them.
Experience shows that it is these small acts of respectful kindness and inclusion that most effectively create connected neighborhoods that feel safe and neighborly. These ‘small’ acts build neighborhoods in which people know their neighbors’ names, along with something of their life circumstance and how to contact them; are aware of unusual comings or goings; feel comfortable calling for help for any reason, to check in during a storm or power outage that everyone is okay, or just to say ‘Hi’.
Examples of tried and true neighborly actions people have taken, continue to take, and that anyone can take:
- Create a neighborhood telephone and/or email list that everyone can use.
- Welcome a new neighbor with a home cooked meal, cookies, town map, or Kimball’s gift certificates.
- Organize a rotation to cook for a neighbor who is ill or injured and can’t walk/drive.
- Drop off a treat – cookies, muffins, chocolate – in a neighbor’s mailbox, for no reason.
- Call a neighbor to say ‘Hi’ if you haven’t seen them for a while.
- Drop off a card or note in a neighbor’s mailbox, or send an email to say you thought of them.
- Connect with neighbors on Facebook.
- Deliver a bunch of daffodils to every neighbor in the spring.
- Plant a bright colored plastic pinwheel flower in the snow in a neighbor’s yard.
- Stop and chat for a few minutes when you see a neighbor on the street.
- Invite a neighbor to go for a walk and talk.
- Invite a neighbor to walk your dogs together.
- Invite a neighbor to go with you to a school presentation, concert or other community event.
- Babysit for a neighbor in an emergency.
- Offer to watch a neighbor’s kids after school if they get stuck at work.
- Send along a teenager to cut a senior’s lawn, or rake their leaves.
- Put out and take in a neighbor’s trash can when they’re away.
- Pick up a neighbor’s newspaper, and mail from the mailbox, when they’re away.
- Snow blow a neighbor’s driveway or water their plants when they’re away.
- Snow blow a neighbor’s driveway if you’re out there finished, and they haven’t done theirs yet.
- Hold a neighbor’s key for emergencies when they’re away, or if they lock themselves out.
- Invite neighbors for an evening community fundraiser or home sale (e.g. Mary Kay, Pampered Chef).
- Invite a neighbor(s) over for morning coffee, afternoon tea, or evening dessert.
- Have a Holiday ‘Open House’ for the neighbors.
- Put out holiday luminaries lining the street.
- Give a ‘going away party’ when a neighbor moves out.
- Call to check on a neighbor (especially seniors) when there’s a power outage or heavy storm.
- Initiate a pick-up basketball game in your driveway and invite the neighbors to join in.
- Have a neighborhood summer barbeque gathering.
- Have a Halloween parade around the neighborhood.
- Organize little neighborhood competitions e.g. for ‘Best Lawn’
- Email neighbors to join in getting a good deal on home needs e.g. top soil, driveway sealcoating.
Just pick one neighborly action that appeals to you, try it, see what happens, and take it from there.
Or jump right in and become a Westford Connector.