GOOD NEIGHBOR IDEAS AND RESOURCES
What do you want to see more of in your neighborhood?
Neighbors knowing neighbors
Get to know your neighbors. If you can’t name more than a neighbor or two, it’s time to introduce yourself. Even if you’ve lived in the neighborhood for a while, this first introduction doesn’t need to be awkward. Simply smile and say, “Hey, I’ve been meaning to introduce myself….” When you’re ready to take it to the next level, visit the Hopeful Neighborhood.
Go outside. It’s hard to get to know your neighbors if you don’t ever see them. Just being out on your front porch more often can encourages more interaction. Going for regular walks in the neighborhood will help you be more visible. Make sure to greet your neighbors, complement their landscaping, and strike up a conversation as often as you can. Want to encourage others to join you outside? Check out this article from Social Life Project.
Create a block directory and email list. If you don’t yet know your neighbors, this is the perfect way to get started. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Just drop off a sign-up sheet on everyone’s doorstep and, once they return it to you, you can email the final version to everyone. Take it a step further and begin to document people’s hopes and concerns as you get to know them. Think about ways to encourage people to use their abilities, knowledge, experience and interests, like they talk about at Abundant Community.
Connect online to connect offline. Websites like Next Door make it possible for you and your neighbors to connect online. Or, some places create a neighborhood Facebook group page. It’s important to remember, though, to not use these sites in place of actually getting to know your neighbors in real life. Make sure to encourage offline interaction, too.
Neighbors sharing life
Build a community garden. This is a time-tested way to promote community interaction in your neighborhood, as well as promote healthy food. Check out the resource page of the American Community Gardening Association. Don’t want to start a community garden? Grow in your own yard and put up a small stand for people to take out of your abundance. Or maybe you can organize a tree planting event, or start a pocket park for kids to play in outdoors.
Start a “library of things”. Sure, you can just ask Joe next door if you can borrow his drill, or ask Shawna to borrow her cupcake tray, but consider establishing a more formal lending library program to get everyone involved. This could be a simple spreadsheet or a formal shared-use tool shed.
Share your skills. Are you tech savvy? Does your neighbor like to tinker with cars? Finding ways for people to share their skills and abilities, either by teaching them or just helping on a one-time basis, helps to build a sense of community. You might do this informally, or through a simple spreadsheet, or even by organizing a work group. Or, you may want to formalize these interactions through a Time Bank.
Build a Little Free Library. Does a skills-share bank or tool-share library feel too overwhelming? Create the opportunity for neighbors to share books, canned goods, or other items by building a simple box in your front yard. Each Little Free Library is registered online, so you can even see if there already is one near you to look at for ideas.
Organize a block party. Block parties take some work (especially the first time), but they’re a great way for neighbors to get to know each other. To help get you started, here’s a useful Neighborhood Block Party Guide. You might want to organize it around a theme, like a fall festival or a fourth of July viewing party.
Host a backyard movie night. Treat the neighborhood to your favorite movie. But keep it PG rated–it will be outdoors, after all. Here are some Backyard Movie Night ideas.
Celebrate Good Neighbor Day. In 1978, by presidential proclamation, Good Neighbor Day was born. It is observed on September 28th every year. Want some ideas of something to do on the last week of September? Here’s one blog to get your wheels turning. Is September too busy? In honor of the life of Fred Rogers (of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood), "Be My Neighbor Day" occurs every April 13. How can you celebrate the invitation to be a neighbor mid-April?
Host a regular monthly gathering, same time, no RSVP needed. Maybe it’s a potluck or game night, a tea party or reading club, or an un-themed gathering—whatever it is, make it regular and invite the neighborhood. Here’s a potluck “how-to” as a starting point, but you can take this any direction you want.
Host a porch party. Want an easy way to socialize with your neighbors without the work of a “real” party? Try a porch party. You can find a porch party kit and other front porch ideas by visiting Porch Placemaking Week. Want to take it to the next level and make it a neighborhood-wide event? Get inspired by the Mapleton PorchFest or Decatur PorchFest.
Neighbors looking out for each other
Welcome new families. You can bring a traditional baked good, but I you might try welcoming newcomers by sharing your favorite local restaurants and businesses, perhaps a stack of your favorite take-out menus wrapped up in ribbon. Connecting people to the life of the neighborhood from the get-go makes a big difference.
Establish a neighborhood watch program. Neighborhood watch is one way to build a safer neighborhood. You will find tools and resources for getting a neighborhood watch program going at the National Crime Prevention Council’s site. A great twist on this concept is the "neighborhood care" program. How can you organize people to take care of a neighbor recovering from surgery, welcome new families, and more!
Let your neighbors know when you could use some help. Sometimes the best way to build relationships and trust is to be the first to be vulnerable. Are you out of sugar at home, but want to finish your cookies? Would you like them to contact you, or the police, if anything suspicious happens while you're away on a trip? If you ask your neighbors, they will likely ask you in turn, which helps to keep the neighborhood safe for everyone.
Start a neighborhood working group. Do you sometimes wish you had help getting your fence fixed? Does the young family down the street need help getting their nursery ready for a new baby? Why not start a working group and rotate to different houses to help get projects done. Here's an example from Sharable.
Neighbors building a strong local economy
Shop locally if you live near a business district. You will not only see and interact with your neighbors at the local businesses and along the way, but you will also get to know your other neighbors—the local business owners and employees. Choosing to shop locally makes a big difference. Want to take it a step farther? Organize a cash mob to get your neighbors out to support a local business as well.
Support our youngest entrepreneurs by buying the neighbor kids’ lemonade. Kids are the future. Help build their entrepreneurial spirit by buying from them whenever neighborhood youth sell something. Want to help your child with a stand? Scholastic has some ideas. But of course, it doesn’t have to be lemonade. There are so many great ideas on the internet.
Coordinate a neighborhood yard sale. Garage sale, yard sale… whatever name you go by, this is a good way to clear out your home’s clutter. In the process, you and your neighbors might make some spending money. Here are some tips for getting started.
More Good Neighbor Resources
Check out this article from Curbed with 101 more ideas you can implement in your community!
Or this article from the University of Missouri with 100 more ideas about how to be neighborly!
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