More than being able to borrow that cup of sugar (has anyone really ever done that?), knowing your neighbour, according to Sydney’s “chief resilience officer” Beck Dawson, will be our way of surviving future disaster.
Ms. Dawson is leading a plan, launched last week, as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Program to strengthen cities. She has stated that knowing neighbours and having an emergency plan would be critical to helping the city “survive, adapt and thrive” in the face of global uncertainty and local challenges.”
So, apart from that weekly “put out the garbage” chat about the weather, or a wave as you drive by, how often have you really connected with the folk next door?
And the big question – could you and would you turn to them in an emergency?
Let’s be honest- we are busy. It is a fast paced life with demands and schedules and long hours and lists and jobs and commuting and….
AND we already have friends, so where do we find the time to make even more?
The truth is, it doesn’t take all that long to say hi, swap phone numbers, and have a drink together. It’s just a matter of slowing down a little and getting out of our comfort zone. Small actions over time can make a huge difference to our community and the happiness we have in residing in it.
Starting a “know your neighbour” plan is really quite simple; post this list on your fridge door as a little reminder of what steps you can take to be a great neighbour.
1. Smile, wave and say hello – how easy is that?
2. Introduce your children to the neighbours. If they too have children, it can make life so much simpler/ happier/easier as they will always have a friend to play with. Better still, if they have older children, you may even find yourself a new babysitter.
3. Kids about? Put up a basketball hoop, soccer nets, and if they are out skateboarding or bike riding, slow down your driving- make it a safe and fun street for all.
4. Do a car pool – offer to share the school runs
5. Celebrate! Organize a street Easter egg hunt, have a big bbq bash for Australia day. Xmas and New Years Eve can be great occasions to get a street party happening- and the best thing? The neighbours won’t complain about the noise!
7. Offer to look after your neighbour’s pets while they are away.
8. Invite your neighbour’s dog for a play with your dog.
9. Green thumb? Share produce from your garden, or a bunch of flowers.
10. Organise a campfire marshmallow night in your street. Marshmallows for the young ones, a warming Merlot for the big “kids”! Win/ win.
11. Have a Sunday bbq.
12. Share the load, and the clean up – bring back the progressive dinner party where everyone prepares a course.
13. Take in your neighbour’s garbage bin.
14. Offer to collect the mail while your neighbour is away.
15. Mow your neighbour’s front median strip.
16. Collect the newspapers and deliver it to their front door.
17. Deliver a meal if your neighbour has been unwell.
18. Start a “walk ‘n talk” group – get fit together. And when you know someone is waiting for you to join them, you’re less likely to snooze your alarm
19. Join a sporting team together.
20. Fancy yourself a masterchef? Test out the street talent with a bake-off and cake tasting.
Community doesn’t magically appear overnight; it usually stems from a series of small actions over time.
If you make small deposits of kindness, arrange a couple of yearly catch ups, when you’re in need of a favour, or even on the rare chance a catastrophe occurs, you’ll know who to call.
Take the time, make the effort, have fun and make new friends.
“Know your neighbor, love your ‘hood.”