Normally, when you hear the phrase nosy neighbor it connotes a bad attribute or not something you’d aspire to be. But when we change that definition to include noticing and being aware of our neighbors and what’s happening in their lives perhaps we begin to see this in a positive way.
I have lived in the same house, in the same neighborhood for almost 20 years. When I was a new mom and staying home with my infant daughter, I was desperate for adult interaction. I would walk my daughter in her stroller and visit with neighbors who were working outside in their yard or puttering in their garage. I began to meet folks throughout the neighborhood by just being out and about. I learned who had children, who was retired, who had just moved in and who was moving out. Making myself available and chatting with my neighbors allowed me to connect with those who had chosen to live in the same neighborhood as I had. Years ago, I met a teenage girl while walking my new baby and dog who ended up babysitting our children for nearly a decade. Another one of our neighbors has had several serious health issues the past year and I have seen other neighbors mowing his lawn and helping his family out while he was recovering.
One of our neighbors who worked from home for several years, could often be found sitting outside working on his laptop with his dog by his side. Sam always knew what the pulse of the neighborhood was. He would say hello and visit with anyone who walked by getting to know folks from every street in our neighborhood. Several years ago, he joined with three other neighbors and began an annual neighborhood potluck the second week of August. They provide the music and grilled items and everyone else brings salads and desserts. Folks bring their chairs and hang out all afternoon schmoozing with one another. It’s nice to chat with new neighbors and find out more about each other.
Whether you are the catalyst of a neighborhood block party or just a neighbor who welcomes others to your hood, go out of your way to spend a few minutes getting to know your neighbors. We can only know what our neighbors are up to if we make a point to meet them. Perhaps after we arrive home from work or on weekends, we’ll take a few minutes to mingle or stop by and chat with our neighbors. Often it’s just meeting at the garbage cans, mailboxes or while watering your yard. Whatever it takes, you might be surprised how getting to know your neighbors can improve your whole neighborhood and community.
Here are a few simple suggestions for mitzvahs you can do in your neighborhood.
Offer to bring an elderly neighbor’s garbage up if they need some extra assistance.
Water flowers or mow a lawn for a neighbor who is going on vacation.
Host a potluck block party and invite everyone to attend.
Bring something over (some home-grown fruits or vegetables or cookies) to welcome a new neighbor to your neighborhood.
Pick up some trash in your neighborhood to keep it clean and tidy.
What other mitzvahs do you like to do in your neighborhood?