Love Thy Neighborday
The average American moves 11.7 times in a lifetime. One out of six Americans move once a year. This high mobility may have turned the institution of neighborly relationships from marriage to long-term dating or even brief fling. This situation was verified by a Pew Study that found fewer than half of Americans know most or all of their neighbors.
Neighbors are good (at least the ones that don’t blast music at 2am). They feed our cats, lend us ladders and cups of sugar and provide easy companionship. A strong tie with a neighbor is worth 1000 Facebook friends on the black market. But it’s tough to love our neighbors when we don’t even know them.
The good folks over at Good Magazine have a remedy for this neighbor deficit disorder: It’s called Neighborday. On April 27th, they challenge all of us to get to know the people closest to us (geographically at least). They explain the motivation:
…While the internet age, has brought unprecedented access to information, networks, and commerce, it’s unclear if it has brought us closer or has in fact further isolated us…Neighborday is about creating a new story. It’s about transcending the old story of self to create a new story of us. It’s about expanding our definition of self to include those who live above us, below us, and next to us. It’s a call to action of the most important kind: to let our neighbors in, and to build more self-reliant streets, blocks, and neighborhoods, together.
We know you’re busy. We know you already have lots of friends that you have trouble keeping in touch with. Worst of all, we know it’s awkward introducing ourselves to the people closest to us–especially if we’ve lived someplace for a while. It might take a little courage (remember, they haven’t introduced themselves to you either, so the shyness is probably mutual).
But really? If we don’t know our neighbors, if we can’t knock on their doors when we need a favor, consider there might be a gap in our social lives.
Visit Good’s Neighboring homepage to take their pledge. They also provide ideas for celebrating Neighborday, like turning your home into a parttime restaurant. If we don’t know our neighbor’s name, we’re probably best off starting small, like introducing ourselves in our hallways, driveways or sidewalks instead of giving our usual “what’s up” or “how’re you doing.”
Are you tight with your neighbors? Beside basic friendliness (always the easiest tactic), how have you cultivated relationships with your neighbors? What advice would you give those of us who are strangers to our neighbors?