I grew up in North Liberty. I went to Clear Creek Amana schools and was on the “rural” bus route. This was before everyone wanted to live here, before Coral Ridge Mall existed, and when Koser Cone was the heart of the city. As my parents would drive us to and from, we would wave as we passed people’s houses, and we could name who lived in each house. You knew everyone. This town has grown so quickly, and some of the things that made it such an awesome place to live and raise a family have changed.
Between the transient population and the glorification of “busy,” so many people don’t even know who lives next to them.
Not on my street.
We were 5th to move in. Literally the day we arrived, a neighbor brought over a plate of cookies with a note that said “welcome!” and she had listed her name, husband, kids names, dogs name and contact numbers. “WOW!” we thought. That was nice, then we got back to unpacking. It didn’t stop though – another neighbor came over to introduce themselves and brought over a baked good.
We took a break from packing about a week in. Neighbors were outside working on things and brought a beer over and asked how we were doing. It hit us then, “We live on that street.” AND WE LOVE IT. The cadence was set and all other neighbors that have come and gone have joined in the comraderie. Forget to shut your garage door? Need an egg? Want your kids playing outside exploring? I’d like to share some of the things that we did that helped our block build very meaningful relationships.
7 Tips for Being a Good Neighbor
Start by Saying, “Hi!”
Stop over when you see someone outside and simply introduce yourself. Talk about your family, things you may have in common, how they get their yard to look so nice, ask to borrow a tool.
Share a Treat
For Christmas, I love to put together little baskets that my neighbors can enjoy as a family. One year I gave them all popcorn buckets with treats & a RedBox code, last year I gave them an oven mit, cookie cutter, and a dough mix. You might want to bake cookies, or share a favorite recipe.
Connect on Social Media
We started a Facebook chat group we named “neighborhood watch” – we share memes, keep each other in the loop, check in on each other, ask if anyone needs anything if we have extra of something. It’s like a modern version of the “party line” phone calls.
Serve Each Other
We offer to mow each others lawns, shovel their driveways, and dog/house sit when we know they are going out of town. Or, we ask each other to help in these areas. It takes a village!
Let the Kids Play
The kids get to play outside, learn about respect, resolve differences, share, laugh, and be inclusive. They literally go house to house asking for each other to come outside and play.
Start a Tradition
The guys on the street have started a beer trading group – exchanging different beers to try new flavors, when they go to a new place they often bring back a new beer for the block to try. If you are working outside, you won’t be out there for long before someone comes out to see if you need help or want a “barley pop” as the guys affectionately call it.
Throw a Party
We have block parties to bring everyone together, share food, tell stories, and make memories.
I feel so grateful to have the neighbors I do. They’ve helped me through so much: saving me a trip to Fareway when I forget a simple ingredient, crying with me when I miscarried my baby, bringing me a cold beverage while landscaping, shoveling my driveway, helping me figure out latching issues when I didn’t think I could breastfeed, bringing me board books & puzzles when I was pregnant, coming home to baby gifts from the hospital, going on walks with me, and watching our daughter last minute if we have scheduling issues. They are simply amazing people. I would venture to guess you live next to some pretty great people, too.
How can you start cultivating community on the street you live on? Is there anyone on your block that may need a friend? Do you even know the names of your neighbors? What can you do to help others in your neighborhood feel more connected? I’d love to hear your thoughts!