Building a stronger sense of community can begin with offering your name with a smile and learning the names of others. A great way to start is learning the name of your letter-carrier. And the people who live across the street, or next door. Go for walks and compliment people on their (house color, front yard, bicycle, nice pets, etc: fill in the blank). It helps us feel connected to know our neighbours. It used to be commonplace. Let’s help bring it back.
Perhaps start by learning the name of the store clerk/coffee barista you see every day. Then when you come in to the shop you can say ‘good morning’ with a specific name. People love names. We enjoy hearing our names being said. Do your part. It’s easier than you think!
Learn the names of the neighbourhood dogs, walking with their owners past your place every day. Go talk to those animal lovers and their dogs. Learn their names. Offer the dogs pats. Say hello. Or another wonderful conversation-starter is babies. Compliment mom or dad on their wonderful baby. When someone moves in next door or near your home, welcome them to the neighbourhood. Learn their names. Gardening or playing with my dog in my front yard has become a wonderful place for chatting with neighbors and building a sense of community. My dad used to putter on his car out front as an opportunity to learn the names of all the neighbours (and the makes of their cars) within a week of any move to a new house our family made.
Building community can also blossom by beginning a new tradition. Sundays in my home are now a time to embrace the once common practice of supper together at the table. A blessing. Good food (but it doesn’t have to be fancy). Conversation. Laughter. Catching up. My beloved sister-in-law and I alternate Sundays at each other’s homes and we welcome other friends and family members whenever they can join us. We do not keep the schedule rigidly because life happens. So other than the rare rescheduling, we are together as a family for a meal every weekend. We are doing what we can towards building community in our family.
We can all do things that help create community right where we live, today. Turn off your computer and go for a walk. Plant flowers in the front yard. Smile. Use your library. Buy locally. Share what you have. Volunteer. Help a lost dog. Take children to the park. Have potlucks. Pick up litter. Talk to the mail carrier. Listen to the birds. Help carry something heavy. Barter. Start a tradition. Ask a question. Hire young people. Organize a block party. Bake extra and share. Open your shades. Share your skills. Mediate a conflict. Listen. Seek to understand. Believe in the power of kindness. Know that you make a difference.
diversity cohesion hands circle image source http://www.blackburn.gov.uk/