Living next door to someone doesn’t make you a neighbor. It makes you an adjacent homeowner. One of the great opportunities we have in our communities is the chance to build real, meaningful relationships with the people who live closest to us. Neighbors are what make a neighborhood. So often we hear people say they want a great neighborhood and then they isolate themselves from their neighbors.
While there may be a desire for privacy, it’s important we realize that regular, helpful communication with our neighbors makes us both safer and paves a smooth road for difficult conversations we might face with our neighbors in the future. Regular deposits to the neighborly bank make future withdrawls much easier and if you have made enough deposits over time, the balance remains in the positive.
Small gestures such as a nice note about landscaping, an invitation to a potluck, or a community improvement project allow us to get to know our neighbors. This is vital when you consider the people around you are the most likely to spot smoke in a fire, clue you in to suspicious activity, and have the opportunity to share vital local information.
What’s more, if you build a positive base with your neighbors, when the time comes to have a difficult conversation (such as a nuisance dog, kids running amok, or intrusive lighting issues), you’ll have a buffer of mutual respect and goodwill to draw on.
If your opening conversation with a neighbor is a complaint, you’re setting yourself up for a long, antagonistic relationship. Who wants to live next to that? It doesn’t take much to start off the right way. Consider leaving a nice note in their mailbox, a small “thank you” gift for looking out for the neighborhood, or some other “olive branch” act that will build rapport.
We at RED think a civil community depends upon our connection to our neighbors. Diverse Los Angeles offers us opportunities most communities only dream of to learn about other cultures and the riches they bring. We all benefit when we depend on and trust one another. Talk to your neighbors, learn about them and build community.
We would love to hear your thoughts on community building!