Building a community. No I’m not talking about leveling a field and putting up a subdivision of houses. I’m also not talking about some governmental or political term… I want to talk about building a community in your neighborhood; a sense of fellowship, common interests and a feeling of camaraderie. It is so important and something most of us are seriously lacking in our modern lives.
Building a Community
First things first, let’s talk about why building a community in your neighborhood is important. It is something your great-grandparents did without thinking about it. When neighbors moved in to your building, your street, your kid’s school – you got know them. But this isn’t the case in today’s busy, non-stop world. We can change that, and this is why you should…
Building a Community – why it is important
- Safety – If you and your neighbors know each other, it is a lot easier to spot trouble. They can give you a call and find out why the moving van is in front of your house, or that your teenager has a lot of cars outside while you’re on that business trip…you get the idea. When you know each other you’re more likely to watch out for each other’s well being.
- Kids – Friends, babysitting swaps and back to that safety thing. A community with kids can build tight bonds.
- Pets – Pet sitting, calling you instead of the city when you’re dog (or chicken) is annoying the neighbors. Hey, your neighbor might now a great vet or even be one.
- Friends – Communities used to get together for tea, bbqs, chicken plucking and the like. You might find you and your neighbor have more interests than you think. A friend next door or down the street can be an awesome way to get out of your house (aka shell).
- Baking emergency – Out of flour or sugar? Your neighbor might be just the person to ask. Mine came over in December because she was out of baking powder. I got some yummies delivered the next day…hello win-win!
- Partnership – If you’re a backyard homesteader like me or a prepper, your community can make or break ya! What if you built a community of cooperation? Neighbors that grew gardens, had a few chickens, swapped goodies and such? You’d build bonds and those bonds could come to protect you when someone challenges your little group’s gardens and backyard fowl. There is strength in numbers!
- Handy Help – Things break, it isn’t about if…it is all about when. Your community can help with small fix-ups, repairs and the like. You share your skills and they share theirs. Anyone ready for an Amish barn raising? No? Well about about a garbage disposal fix?
Building a Community – how to do it
So you like this idea of building a community, but you don’t know where to begin? I have a few suggestions to get the ball rolling!
- Start small – Don’t go print a 100 flyers about how you want to build community. Community is also about intimacy, of close relationships. That can’t be done 100 at a time. Start with your direct neighbors – those on either side of you, directly in front or directly behind. Once those relationships are built, you can branch out and spread the love!
- Start where you are – You don’t need to completely change things to get this going. Wave, say hello at the mailbox, walk your pup around and say hi to those walking their dogs. See someone needing a helping hand? Offer it. BUT don’t be offended if they look terrified, confused or suspicious…this is a new concept for most people.
- Use social media – I know you’re thinking that it is the opposite of real community. But this could be the start to breaking down some walls, finding a common interest and getting to know someone in their comfort zone.
- Take a plate of cookies to the new neighbors – I’ll never forget when my husband and I bought our first home and the neighbors brought us a plate of cookies. It endeared me to them right away and we spent many evenings in our driveways talking, watching kids play and even shared a bbq or two. Simple things go a long way! No newbies? Holidays are a great time to bring a neighbor a few goodies.
- Organize a block party – Outside, potluck, not too much commitment. This is a great way to get everyone out of their houses and talking. Nothing like food and fun to start a conversation.
- Game nights?
- Swim party?
- Brunch with the ladies?
- Dudes Dinner?
- Share your skills – teach something interesting or necessary to your neighbors. Teaching gardening, knitting, auto repair – whatever skill you have that you could teach others in a small or large groups. You might be very surprised how many are interested in what you know!
- Form a Neighborhood Watch – or a clean up crew for the street or something else that would group your neighbors together for a common goal.
Building a community in your neighborhood doesn’t have to be difficult or done overnight. But start the building and you’ll probably be surprised that others will join your efforts. Community builds a better neighborhood and a better life.
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