Be a Nosy Neighbor

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?

Sometimes you want nosy neighbors

Runaway CarThis weekend my stepfather and husband had planned to spend the day hiking together. My stepfather parked his car on the right side of the street outside of our home and took off. About an hour later, our neighbors who I don’t know all that well and are currently staying at the house next door, rang the doorbell. The wife asked if we knew whose car was in front of our house because it had begun to roll down the hill. The husband was already in front of the car doing his best to stop it from rolling. I immediately ran out to stop the car too. I didn’t have the keys to the car and it was locked so we just did what we could to roll the car to the opposite side of the street where it could rest against the curb. My stepfather wasn’t suppose to be home for several hours but I sent him this picture and called so he would know what was going on.

I was so grateful to our neighbors for being aware and coming to tell us that something was amiss. Don’t forget to be that kind of a neighbor!

Get to know your neighbors

Depending on where you live or how social you are, you may or may not know your neighbors. How fortunate I was yesterday that not only do I have neighbors I know and trust, but one of them was home last week when I needed it.

We have friends who live in the neighborhood but both of the adults in the home work.  After realizing that I had locked myself out of my house, I called on the off chance that they were home. Their youngest daughter,  a teenager, was home sick and was able to give me the spare  key to my house. I felt grateful as I walked over to their home that we had friends in the neighborhood  and on this particular day their sick daughter could do a mitzvah without leaving her home.

930) Over the weekend, we invited friends over at the last minute. I didn’t know what to make for dessert and when I opened the pantry I saw a gift we received from my son’s teacher at the holidays. It was sand art brownies. It took us 10 minutes to make them and they were absolutely delicious. I told my son we should send his teacher a thank you note to tell her how great and easy they were. After dinner my son wrote her a very sweet thank you note.

Received a simple mitzvah yesterday. My son had a play date at 12:30pm. The young boy brought us our newspaper up to our door.