Before I had children, I lived in a lot of houses where I didn’t know anything about my neighbors. Sadly, I was so busy with my own life that I wasn’t interested in taking the time to get to know them. We moved to a neighborhood full of children when we had our first child. We spent day after day outside, watching her ride her bike and kick the soccer ball while getting to know the other families living nearby. Those days turned into BBQs and then holidays and vacations. We made meals when someone was sick, spread bark for the single mom and brought flowers on Mother’s Day for the mother who had lost her only child. We didn’t just live in a neighborhood, we lived in community. I never knew that I wanted to live in community or really, needed to. As the dictionary explains it, community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. Yes. That’s what we had. Fellowship. When we moved to a new city, we knew how important it was to find a neighborhood where we could once again live in community. One year later, we have. We carpool to school, have a pool of moms for babysitting, and pass baked goods and hand me downs between houses. We spend hour (upon hour) standing outside chatting while our kids ride bikes, play basketball and build lemonade stands. That fellowship didn’t happen over night.
It started with a simple smile or greeting when I met someone at the mailbox. I nervously walked over to a group of moms chatting in the cul-de-sac to introduce myself, despite how uncomfortable I felt.
We turned off our smart phones, invited others over (even though the house and back yard aren’t model home material) and helped shovel snow from driveways.
We sat outside whenever our kids were there playing. For months, we did this alone. Now we often find two or three parents joining us and on a Friday night, it’s an impromptu neighborhood party.
The neighbors with older children or no children at all have even started to come out. They bring their adult beverages and dogs. Fellowship.
I like to think it’s a little Leave It to Beaver, when they called neighbors “friends”, when they baked cookies for the new family next door and had pot lucks. I’d forgotten how important community is, but I’m bringing it back, starting in my neighborhood.
Note: I’ve shared 40 Simple Ways to Build Neighborhood in your Community over here, today. I’d love to have you join the conversation.
Does your neighborhood feel like a community? How are you building relationships with your neighbors?