Turn a Neighborhood into a Community

It’s a gift to take an action that begins to turn your neighborhood of individuals into a community. A web of people who know something more than one another’s faces. Think, act, enjoy. The gift of community has 360 degree impact.

The origin of the word “community” comes from the Latin munus, which means the gift, and cum, which means together, …

Neighbors are people you say hello to when you pass them on the street. Community means someone calls or texts to see if you’re OK when several days go by without seeing you in the regular place at the regular time.

Neighbors are people who may ask how your visit to the doctor went. Community means it’s easy to ask someone to drive you to the medical office and wait until your colonoscopy is completed.

Neighbors are often cliques who gather around common attributes of age and status: young families, retired folks, working people. Communities are formed by someone creating opportunities for inter-mingling of people in these silos.

A wonderful notion: aging at home, where you are most comfortable now, surrounded by familiar people and memories. Most of us want that. However, it can mean aging in isolation if we’re not connected in some meaningful way to the broader community which surrounds our personal residences.

What are your best personal attributes? Your values and interests? What do you know you enjoy and are pretty good at? What do you own that you’re willing to share? Think of ways to reveal these – your gifts -and thus create links with people close by. This is what turns neighborhoods into communities.

Here are a few Community Building tips and tools you can consider applying in your neighborhood.

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Pick a Season and Party

Everyone loves to eat. Be the person who initiates a Potluck for everyone on your apartment floor. Or a Block Party on your street. Check out this link Hold a Block Party  for excellent step by step instructions. (adapted from “Neighborhood Block Party Kit” distributed by the City of Edmonton Community Services Dept.)

Reveal Neighborhood Abundance

A gift exchange encourages sharing in communities.Host a Potlatch. A what? A Potlatch is not just a party. This practice is a tradition of the coastal northwest Native American tribes. It’s a magnificent way of using sharing as a unifying element to build community.  Today, as in olden times, each person invited to a potlatch receives a present. This present can be as simple as a pencil or as complicated as a carving.

At a traditional potlatch, everyone receives the same present. In my community I suggested everyone bring “something of value they were willing to give away.” Some people brought stories to tell, others brought items of clothing, garden tools, books. You get the picture – Give something, leave with something. Make connections.

Use Meet-Up to find or start a Group

A the purpose and slogan of "Meetup.com"Meetup group is a community. A community of people who come together because they care about the same thing. Mountain climbers, first-time parents, aspiring circus performers, coders… you name it, there’s a good chance there’s a Meetup group for it (and if there isn’t, maybe you should create one).

While the connections begin online, the real memories are made at events. Meetup events are real-life gatherings where members and organizers get together to connect, discuss, and practice activities related to their shared interests.

On Meetup’s Find page you can discover groups and events right in your neighborhood or nearby. Join one, join ten. Join as many as you want. Your social calendar will thank you and your neighborhood will grow community.

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