As a homeowner, I have become good friends with several of my neighbors. But, it has always been the neighbors within the closest proximity to me. I’m talking about right next door or across the street. Sure, I’m friendly with the rest of my neighborhood and have passing conversations, but seldom has it gone further than that. This makes me wonder what friendships I’m missing out on simply because of where I live within my neighborhood. And take it a step further, how can this fundamental issue be addressed?
Upon asking around I found this to be a common scenario, so I thought I would offer a few suggestions to help you, and the rest of your neighbors, all get to know each other a little better.
To most, a welcoming committee is a thing of the past. However, upon moving into my subdivision 2 years ago, my wife and I were greeted with a tray of cookies and a warm welcome. This is my third home ownership experience, but the first time I received any type of formal "welcome to the neighborhood". My and wife and I immediately felt welcome and confident that we had made the right home choice.
As a resident and/or board member, what can you do? Form block captains to welcome each new resident of your neighborhood. Create a packet that includes local utilities, your contact information and any other important information they may need to help them settle in their new community.
This is different than your neighborhood board. Sure, they need to be involved, but the board’s main interest is to ensure covenants are met and to address issues as they arise. A social committee’s goal is to foster a sense of community, encourage socialization and neighborhood involvement. The list of possibilities for the social committee to organize are endless. From a visit from Santa in December, to block party in the summer, to a harvest festival in the fall, there are many opportunities to celebrate your neighborhood and get to know one another. Don't forget the smaller, easier to plan events as well like informal cookouts and monthly gatherings with smaller groups of people who are interested. A simple survey to your neighborhood will help gage interest and guide your events.
If you have a community website, be sure it's up to date. Your website can be a great avenue to contact neighbors who participate in the directory, offer your services or search for services offered, see what's upcoming on the calendar, and stay up to date with going's on of your community. Used in conjunction with the Social Committee, your neighborhood site can be a valuable asset in inexpensively spreading the word about events and social opportunities.
Remember, the goal is to connect neighbors. Residents who feel a sense of connection and kinship to their neighborhood are more likely to be good neighbors and speak highly of their neighborhood. This goodwill can help form friendships, mend boards who may need a nudge of help, and create a happy, involved community that all are proud to call home!