Simple Ways to be a Good Neighbour
There is a known rule in the community-building playbook, "Start with Petunias".
If you want to transform your neighbourhood into the kind of thriving, safe, attractive, and pleasant community, it's best to start small. Plant flowers.
Here are seven more small, simple things you can do to make your neighbourhood amazing:
1. Spend More Time in Your Front Yard or Front Step
Jay Walljasper, in his book, "The Great Neighborhood Book", describes sitting on your front stoop a
"great city pastime that has become endangered", and notes that some historians feel that when we spend more time in the backyards, instead of our front yards, we are decreasing our connection with our neighbours.
What are some ways to pass time in our front porch or steps? Watch the world go by, read the newspaper, have a beer, and wave at your neighbours!
2. Go for Neighbourhood Walks
You know that quote about how showing up is 99% of the effort you must put in? By strolling your neighbourhood, you are showing up, and that does a lot.
Not only is this good for your health, but it's good for the health of your community. When a community has locals taking regular walks, it is like having a neighbourhood patrol. An active and engaged neighbourhood is a neighbourhood that is monitored and safe - criminals usually prefer to go somewhere more quiet and deserted looking.
3. Welcome New Neighbours
An old-fashioned tradition worth reviving! Drop by with a basket of muffins and introduce yourself. Share helpful information about the neighbourhood.
4. Celebrate Holidays and Seasons
It's easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life, but the holidays and seasons are a good chance to be thoughtful and to brighten your community.
The Great Neighborhood Book has many suggestions for ways to embrace the holidays and seasons;
- Swap seedlings from your garden in the spring
- Organize a special trick-or-treat experience for the children at Halloween
- Coordinate Christmas decorations around the block with your neighbours - make ice lanterns, or decorate all the lamp posts.
- Organize a caroling night complete with cookies and cocoa after.
- Make note of #5!
5. Give Small Gifts
Gifts for neighbours do not have to be elaborate but they are so rewarding to give!
A basket of extra tomatoes from your garden will surely be appreciated by your neighbour who doesn't keep a garden. Use your big snowblower to do your elderly neighbour's walkway. A box of homemade cookies. An offer to collect mail while your neighbour is on vacation.
Everyone has a gift to give.
Be thoughtful with small gifts, and don't be surprised when you start receiving surprises and gifts too!
6. Take Your Kids to the Park
It's another tried and true, old-fashioned action. Why mess with success?
And if your neighbourhood park isn't that great... developing one might be a great project to pull together the community!
7. Make it Great for Pets
Some green space, a safe walking path, a community water dish - according to Walljasper, a dog-friendly neighbourhood will have dog-walkers out at all hours. This is a wonderful way to prevent crime and meet new people.