Sunday, September 17 is National Neighborhood Day! Whether you live on a cul-de-sac or high-rise, there is usually a sense of routine and “back-to-business” that goes along with the fall season - making autumn a great time of year to get involved in your community.
Why should you get involved in your neighborhood? Studies are plentiful about the emotional, mental and even physical health benefits about getting to know one’s neighbor, here are just a few:
- People who said they knew and trusted their neighbors are more likely to report higher rates of health and well being than those who said they did not know or trust their neighbors.
- Volunteering makes people feel like they have more time, similar to how giving money to charity makes the giver feel wealthier.
- Getting to know your neighbors is a good way to grow your network, find out about new job opportunities and have contacts to call on for help if you need a last-minute babysitter or helping hand.
Unfortunately recent studies found that one in three Americans have never even interacted with their neighbors or know their names. If you’re in this group, how can you get started?
- Start by saying “hi.” Creating a neighborhood directory, Facebook group or email list are good ways to introduce yourself to your neighbors.
- Keep it fun. If get togethers are new for your neighborhood, keep it casual and make the event an occasion that people can “stop by.” A low-commitment event is likely to get more attendees. Consider organizing a block party, picnic, or asking a favorite food truck, brewery or winery to make a guest appearance on a Saturday afternoon.
- Make it age appropriate. If you’re a family-heavy neighborhood, then opt for something aimed at kids, like an arts and craft festival or talent show. If most residents in your neighborhood are adults, then consider contacting your local blood bank to see if you can organize a drive or a battle-of-the-bands event. If you’ve got a mixed group then an outdoor movie can be a fun option.
- Invite local “celebrities.” Ask your Mayor, city council members or other elected officials to attend. If you’ve got kids in the group, then local firefighters and/or police officers are a good, crowd-drawing addition to any neighborhood event.
Need more, out-of-the-box ideas for getting to know your neighbors? NeighborhoodDay.org offers a step-by-step planning guide to creating and inviting your neighbors to a get together and tools and templates for RSVP lists and neighborhood directories.