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BUILDING A NEIGHBORHOOD COMMUNITY
New ways to get to know the neighbors!
HOW TO BUILD A NEW COMMUNITY WITHIN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
In today's fast-paced society and our pick-up-and-move lifestyles, we have difficulties growing roots in our communities and we also do not have much time or desire to get to know our neighbors. In days past, people lived within the same community for most of their lives, knowing and sharing with each other and developing tight friendships and family-to-family bonds. Everyone knew each other and were aware of "suspicious looking, misplaced characters or activities" within the community. And although it was sometimes annoying to have everyone know your business, it was also reassuring that you felt secure and relatively safe within your neighborhood... that several people were there to help in case you needed assistance or a friendly conversation over a cup of tea.
As Americans increasingly pull away from formal organizations, may are seeking ways to connect with their communities on a smaller scale. One way is neighborhood celebrations. Here are some ideas:
You can always tell when Halloween/Samhain is coming. It is not the falling leaves that provide the tip-off but rather the decorations - like the bouncing skeleton by John and Joyce's front doorway, or the gorilla in the cage on the lawn at Richard and Sue's house, or the sounds and lines of kids and parents gathering in front of Linda's house, to have a fun fright in the neighborhood "spook alley". With today's hazards at Halloween time, the neighborhood "spook alley" is making a comeback and providing a safe but fun alternative to "tricks or treats". This can be fun for young and old alike (many times the parents come back through by themselves just for the fun of it). This often can become a neighborhood party on Halloween night if coordinated with some of your neighbors. Here in Salem, Massachusetts, the town becomes a big "party" for Haunted Happenings.
An annual Easter Egg/Spring Equinox hunt sends children scrambling all over Debbie and Joe's Lawn, searching for plastic eggs she and her neighbors have filled with candy and coins. Everyone is invited, no matter what their religion may be. It is a good excuse to come together after a winter of crummy, cold weather, besides celebrating the springtime and the new burst of green life and nature's beauty.
Neighbors can gather twice a year on a Fourth of July picnic (with a watermelon-seed-spitting contest and a good game of horse-shoes) and then at Christmas/Yule Eve, they can line their street with candle-lit luminarities in celebration of the turning season, diverse personal beliefs regarding the season, and their community unity.
Neighbors can gather for the various cultural celebrations unique to their neighborhood and have an all-day street celebration featuring cultural music, foods, dancing, games and maybe a community talent show. This educates our children and ourselves about the wonderful diversity in our communities, sharing with each other, and building bonds and tolerance of those who are "different" from us and this will help to reduce ignorance, mistrust, prejudice and hate between groups.
All this togetherness has an added bonus: Block parties spur neighbors to watch out for one another's children and each other, including our senior citizens.
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