Love Thy Neighbor
We often view our little piece of real estate, terra firma, home sweet home, what have you, as ending at the curb. Technically, I mean according to the deed, it does. However, changing your view of home to include the rest of the street has benefits. You don’t just materialize on your front step at the end of the day (although that would be pretty cool). You drive and walk down your street every day, passing other houses, other people. These other people, for better or for worse directly impact your physical, emotional and financial well-being. And yet, they are often complete strangers to us.
When I was a kid, people in my neighborhood knew each other by name, they knew which house you lived in, they knew what you did for a living, and they knew your kids. It was kind of like the comedy skit the comedian Sinbad had, where he talks about when he was a kid and did something bad, the neighbors would smack him as he passed by while saying “I heard what you did.” That’s how it was in my neighborhood. People looked out for each other.
Nowadays we’re so autonomous. And while we may not be able to, or desire to go back to that neighborhood feeling of old, maybe we should bring some of the good from the past back to life.
After all, learning to look out for your neighbhors and your community is good for you in several ways. At a bare minimum it might help you feel that the guy across the street who mows the lawn in his robe is a little less creepy. At best, you build a community of people that know each other, trust each other, and are resources for each other.
Civic pride can build physical, emotional and financial equity for the whole neighborhood, which can affect property values in a similar way to walkability. After all, “Location, location, location” begins with the people that live in that location and what they’ve made that location into.
This doesn’t mean that we need to be best friends with the people next door, or that we have to go out and invite everyone to a giant community party on our lawn. It can be much simpler than that. I came across this article at southendseattle.com. I thought the author did a great job of breaking it down, giving us 10 simple steps to creating a nicer neighborhood. Give it a read and spread the goodness.