Have you seen the signs and billboards around town with the words “Love Where You Live” printed on them, and wondered the heck that even means? “Love Where You Live” is a campaign initiated by churches and community leaders in the Austin area, with the goal of encouraging and teaching people how to be a good neighbor. The campaign was originally inspired by a book titled, The Art of Neighboring, by Dave Runyon and Jay Pathak.
So what is so important about being a good neighbor, and why would you want to perfect the “art of neighboring” anyway?
Well, besides the fact that it just makes life more FUN, statistically, it helps cut back significantly on crime, and boosts community morale as a whole. Also, you have people to borrow butter, sugar, and chocolate chips from, when you are trying to make cookies, and realize that you failed to buy the three main ingredients.
Here are a few interesting facts:
So…how do you go about MEETING your neighbors? We are ALL busy, pressed for time, and have limited mental capacity. Here are a few easy ways:
- Simply sit out in your front yard: this is the very easiest of all, and the surest way to meet people. Set up a few chairs, put a cooler next to you with drinks (to share!), and tell your kids to ride their bikes. People come out of the woodwork. Especially if you offer them a cold drink.
- Invite them over for dinner: Well you don’t have to be all creepy and formal about it! Just walk over and say, “we’re throwing some burgers on the grill tonight. You guys want to join us?”
- Host a block party: requires some planning and coordination, yes. It can be so fun, though! Rent a bounce house for the kids. BYOB and everyone bring a dish to share. Easy. Fun.
- Recruit your kids: Tell your kids to walk over and ask the neighbor kids to play. Stand outside and supervise, and inevitably, at some point, the other kids parents will as well.
- Bake: Bring them cookies! (after you borrow the butter, sugar, and chocolate chips, it’s the least you can do, really)
- Make a directory: Gather the names, phone numbers and email addresses of everyone on your block, and then send it out. This is bound to come in handy at some point, and will be super appreciated by all.
- Ask to borrow something: I mean, wait until there is actually something you NEED to borrow. Don’t just make something up, or you WILL be creepy
- Just listen: As you are (hopefully) conversing with all the neighbors you have met from sitting out in your front yard, hosting block parties, and making up things you need to borrow, be a good listener! Did someone mention they have a birthday coming up? Remember it, and walk over and tell them Happy Birthday when the day comes. Is someone pregnant? Found out when the baby is coming, and bring them a meal.
- Host a ladies night: Your back patio. A few bottles of wine. The ladies from your block. Get on it.
- Be friendly at the park and pool: Don’t have tunnel vision. Notice the other moms and kids around you. Be friendly. Strike up conversation.