As Lady Bird Johnson once said, "While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many." But we all know that the mere reality of living next to people does not necessarily create neighborliness.
The obvious question is, "do people really want to know their neighbors?" As Lisa Iannucci writes, "Lives are busy and schedules hectic, and the last thing many people want to do when they're at home is socialize with their neighbors. " Or is it? She goes on to describe the upside of neighborliness--"... building a sense of community is valuable for the residents—it creates a network of communication and support among residents, and ultimately improves the quality of life within the community."
So what are some ways to create space for busy people to connect? One way to start is to offer ways for residents to interact in productive and meaningful ways.
1. Create a community garden. It can be managed by residents and used communally or sold at a farmers market or even donated to a local charity. Another option is to hold apartment gardening workshops and have a weekend market with the produce.
2. Organize a community garage sale. Nothing gets people out of their homes like other people's junk! Proceeds can be kept each resident, pooled to help meet the needs of a community member or used for a local charity. Try combining it with a blood drive or other community service to increase traffic even more.
3. Organize a fitness challenge. Tentative residents are more likely to commit to something that lasts for a limited amount of time. Weekly check-ins allow and group exercise that you don't have to manage help residents connect to each other.
Ultimately, an increased sense of community is better for everyone, but sometimes it may take a little coaxing. Do you want to know your neighbor?