Was there a time when neighborhood camaraderie looked like a Norman Rockwell painting? We like to think there was. Were there bake sales and Tupperware parties? Did everyone know each other’s name?
Today, you’re probably hard pressed to remember the name of the couple that lives next door to you, let alone the family that occupies the house at the end of the block. You might see “Jim” picking up the newspaper from the front stoop on Sunday mornings, or catch a glimpse of “Jane” in her reflective running gear every Thursday evening, but chances are you don’t really know these people. You say hello, in passing, and that’s about it. While it’s easy to come up with excuses as to why you don’t know your neighbors (you’re too busy, too stressed, the backyard fence is too high, America is all about privacy), here are some tips to get to know your neighbors better.
A Walk Does Wonders
Is there anything simpler than turning off the TV, stepping out the front door and taking a walk? This is the easiest way to get to know your neighbors. A walk through the neighborhood is guaranteed to bring you in contact with other people; some will be friendly, others not so much, but that’s how neighborhoods work. However, from a simple “hello” to a “why don’t you come over for dinner some time?” -first thing is first, you need to put yourself out there.
Join or Start a Club
Do you remember when you were a kid and you and your friends had a clubhouse? Things haven’t changed that much. Many neighborhoods have organizations you can join. Of course, you probably won’t be talking about girls, boys, or comic books. Neighborhood associations and special interest groups meet to discuss topics like neighborhood crime and real estate development. However, neighborhoods have more recreational clubs as well, and if it doesn’t have the type of club you’re looking for, then you can always start one yourself.
Summer is the perfect time to get to know your neighbors. People start coming out of the woodwork to mow the lawn, work in the garden and fix up their houses. Barbecues, pool parties and Friday night card games have long been ways for neighbors to connect and socialize with one another. These cocktail hour type of activities aren’t for everyone, but you never know when flipping burgers will turn into a game of horseshoes, and that game of horseshoes turn into a tee-time every Sunday and a life long friendship.
Getting to know your neighbors takes creativity and perseverance. People have a tendency to spend too much time in their houses, or commuting to work in their cars. You can’t wait for your neighbors to strike up a conversation with you. Whether you’re organizing a play date or a modern twist on a Norman Rockwell style Tupperware party, if you want to meet people, it’s up to you to be the social butterfly.