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Being Intentional about Connecting with Neighbors

 
Posts: 91
Location: Central Arkansas zone 7b
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Though I live in a rural area, my town is growing by leaps and bounds. Farms are breaking up all around me, bringing new houses and new neighbors. I haven't been exactly thrilled about that, but I know in my heart I must be more intentional about getting to know my new neighbors, some who have lived near me for longer than I care to admit.
Last week while out walking, I decided to bite the bullet, stop and knock on the door of a house that had sold at least a year before. It turned out that the young couple was like-minded, friendly, and, had just learned some devastating news about their pregnancy. They needed to talk.

I guess my point is that, especially these days, it's easy to withdraw into our own lives without feeling much of an obligation to be aware of our neighbors needs. We have an excuse to isolate. But the thing is, we need connection now more than ever. This darling young mom outwardly appeared so normal as she gushed on about her chicken coop and her little raised bed garden, but in truth, she had an invisible hole blown right through her chest.
Making connections with my neighbors has moved to a higher spot on my to-do list, but I know I'll have to make a real effort to actually reach out. Thus, the 'intentional' part!
 
Posts: 28
Location: Montréal, QC
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I love this! Fairly recently, I’ve identified community as something really important to me, and I imagine cohousing or an eco village in my future somehow. But then I thought - why wait until I have that project underway to start building community?

The logistics are the hard part. Living in an urban area, I’m wondering how to go about this kind of intentional neighborliness. Knocking on doors doesn’t seem quite the same when we’re all living I apartments and triplexes. Plus with covid-19, I’m not keen to organise an in-person block party. Still brainstorming things to start with in these times... any suggestions welcome :) how do you plan to (intentionally) make those connections?
 
gardener
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That's funny this comes up today. I am in an urban setting, and yesterday my neighbor (with whom we have butted heads about noisy parties, cigarette butts being thrown in my garden, etc) was at my gate in tears, someone had tried to break into her house while she and her daughter were in there.
I brought her in, we looked at my camera footage (I have cams everywhere, along with a very grumpy junkyard dog), and tried to get her sorted. Neighbors are important, even if they can be pains in the butt sometimes.
Cam, in our urban setting the "neighborhood watch" aspect is really important. I avoid our block's WhatsApp group because I am antisocial and don't need another useless chat group in my life, but I do have everyone's numbers if I need them, and we check in. That is a start. Also having places to leave things if anyone wants it- we all leave things in our front yards for others to snag.
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, USA
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Cam Lee wrote:
The logistics are the hard part. Living in an urban area, I’m wondering how to go about this kind of intentional neighborliness. Knocking on doors doesn’t seem quite the same when we’re all living I apartments and triplexes. Plus with covid-19, I’m not keen to organise an in-person block party. Still brainstorming things to start with in these times... any suggestions welcome :) how do you plan to (intentionally) make those connections?



While they can sometimes be superficial, lame, or mean, local virtual networks or Facebook pages can be a good way to begin connecting during Covid.  One option is nextdoor.com, which sorts people by neighborhood.  In Vermont, we have a statewide set of neighborhood emailing lists, frontporchforum.com.

There are also Mutual Aid networks, promoted much more during Covid.  See https://www.mutualaidnetwork.org/

These are exciting organizations that set up spreadsheets with needs requested by members.  Such things as dog-walking during an illness, dropping off a grocery order, and the like have been lifesavers during major lockdowns, and have built networks of caring in urban as well as other neighborhoods.
 
Carol Denton
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Cam Lee wrote:I love this! Fairly recently, I’ve identified community as something really important to me, and I imagine cohousing or an eco village in my future somehow. But then I thought - why wait until I have that project underway to start building community?

The logistics are the hard part. Living in an urban area, I’m wondering how to go about this kind of intentional neighborliness. Knocking on doors doesn’t seem quite the same when we’re all living I apartments and triplexes. Plus with covid-19, I’m not keen to organise an in-person block party. Still brainstorming things to start with in these times... any suggestions welcome :) how do you plan to (intentionally) make those connections?



One thing you might try is to take the 'neighborhood watch' very literally and simply watch your neighbors for a while and feel out who might be approachable. We humans seem to have lost our sense of intuition when it comes to sizing up people, but I think we can get that back. Not everyone is to be trusted of course, but neither is everyone to be feared. Listen to your gut.
When I had my first job right out of college, my roommate and I lived in a duplex. Our neighbor was a girl our age, not home much, and very quiet. My roommate and I were noisy and had lots of friends coming and going. One evening the two of us were sitting in our living room reading and heard our neighbor sneeze through the thin walls. Sneeze! We were astonished. She moved soon after and I'm very sad to say we never got to know her at all. Looking back, it's hard for me to wrap my head around that. I can't imagine what kept us from reaching out to her.
So, you are right that you can start practicing community now! Good luck!
 
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Location: Limburg, Flanders, Belgium
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I think this is so important. While I have been dreaming of living in a like-minded permaculture heaven community, I'm starting to realize that maybe that ain't it. We are all in this ship/t together and it is beginning to dawn on me that we need to work with what we have, where we are. Things will not change if I am going to sit around and wait for the perfect community to materialize. If I can love my neighbour, maybe I can learn a thing or two about diversity, respect for everyone's process, and recognition of our shared humanness.
 
Cam Lee
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Location: Montréal, QC
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Concrete suggestions much appreciated! I will take a look and see if there’s anything set up already for my area. If not, I’ll look into getting a group or spreadsheet set up and slipping a little notice into people's mailboxes to let them know. I had read something outlining best practices for that at the beginning of the pandemic and just... never followed through, I guess. I’ll see if I can find the article again.

I like the idea of “watching” the neighbourhood and getting to know people that way. I’ve been going for runs and notice the same few people out on balconies. Whatever happened to sitting on your stoop and socializing?
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