With the Halloween holiday right around the corner, I’ve gotten to thinking about how important it is to know our neighbors. When we know whom we can trust, who our kids can go to, and how we can be there for each other, it makes life more meaningful and rich.
Whenever I can, I try to meet the new neighbors in our neighborhood, touch base with the neighbors I know, and get to know neighbors who aren’t as connected. I do this by trying to take a short neighborhood walk every day. I never know who I’ll bump into. The relationships I have with my neighbors matter. That’s how I discovered that one neighbor got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and our family could be supportive to her and her family. That’s how I could celebrate when two of the neighborhood teenagers got a new puppy. That’s how my son knew who to go to when he locked himself out of our house. That’s how our neighbors could band together when one neighbor had a garage broken into. Yes, we’re all busy. Yes, it takes time to get to know our neighbors, but it’s time well spent!
To live in a caring neighborhood and community, it matters to know who people are and how we can be there for each other and our kids.
1. Neighbors who know each other are more likely to have a strong neighborhood spirit and to send messages to criminals that their neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
2. Almost half of American talk face-to-face with their neighbors.
3. One out of five Americans communicates with their neighbors through digital tools, such as through e-mail, social networking sites, cell phones, or text messaging.
4. A caring neighborhood and neighborhood boundaries are two of the 40 Developmental Assets.
5. Every year, neighbors come together to celebrate the National Night Out on the first Tuesday evening of August (except for Texas, which comes together the first Tuesday of October). Neighborhoods across the country have been celebrating National Night Out for 27 years.
How do you get to know your neighbors?
• Discover how to connect to your neighbors.
• Find out more about National Night Out from the National Association of Town Watch. Click on the press release to look at the “Sampling of Registered Areas” to find out if your community is involved.
National Night Out, “Register Now for National Night Out 2010,” press release, 2010.
Aaron Smith of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Neighbors Online,” June 9, 2010.
Peter L. Benson, All Kids Are Our Kids: What Communities Must Do to Raise Caring and Responsible Children and Adolescents, second edition (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006).
National Night Out, ibid.