Simple Ideas to Help You Reconnect with Old Neighbors and Welcome New Ones
How well do you know your neighbors? The third Sunday in September each year is National Neighborhood Day — September 18, this year. It’s a day set aside to bring neighbors together to build and sustain the neighborhood relationships that provide the foundation for civic action and create stronger, more caring and effective communities.
Celebrating National Neighborhood Day is simple! Here are a few ideas for how you can participate:
Potluck Cookout — Invite your neighbors and ask everyone to bring a dish to share. You don’t have to have a neighborhood park to hold a community potluck. Designate a yard (or two) in a centralized location and have everyone bring their blankets and chairs. Use it as an opportunity to re-connect with neighbors you haven’t seen in a while and to welcome new ones.
Book Exchange — Set up your neighborhood’s own Little Free Library and invite neighbors to share their favorite books with others. Little Free Libraries operate under the “take a book, return a book” policy.
Arts, Crafts or Talent Show — Your neighborhood is likely filled with talented people including artisans, crafters, musicians and dancers. Schedule a neighborhood arts and crafts fair or talent show to bring everyone together to celebrate the unique gifts and skills of each of your neighbors!
Outdoor Movie — Now that temperatures are starting to cool down, it’s the perfect time get outside and enjoy a movie under the stars. All you need is a projector and a blank surface, such as the side of a home, a white bed sheet strung across the yard or an inflatable movie screen. Invite your neighbors to bring their own lawn chairs or sleeping bags. Choose a family-friendly flick and don’t forget the popcorn!
Neighborhood Walking Tour — Choose an evening and pick a time, then invite all your neighbors to join you for a walking tour of the neighborhood. Use this as a chance to pass by homes and neighbors you might not normally pass on your daily drive in and out of the neighborhood. Plus, your neighborhood will look completely different when strolling by with friends.
Food Drive — Nothing brings people together quite like the chance to do good in the community. Hold a food drive and invite neighbors to contribute canned and other non-perishable foods that can then be donated to your community food pantry.
Service Project — Organize a neighborhood service project for one morning, followed by a fun activity in the afternoon. This could be as simple as picking up trash in the neighborhood or gathering to do yard work for your elderly neighbors. Need more ideas? Visit Hands On Network to find service organizations in your area.
Neighborhood Beautification Project — When everyone pitches in, it doesn’t take much effort to spruce up your neighborhood. Here are a few ways you can beautify your neighborhood: plant a community garden, organize a bulb or tree planting, repair the bike or walking trails, remove graffiti or create a nature trail.
Voter Registration Drive — With the elections just around the corner, a voter registration drive is one way to bring neighbors together in civic engagement. Invite local politicians, such as the Mayor or city council members to participate.
Meet the Heroes — Invite your local fire and/or police department to your gathering. This is a great way to get to know those who protect and serve your community, and the kids will love seeing a fire engine and/or police vehicle!
Emergency Preparedness — Do you and your neighbors know what to do in the event of an emergency? Invite local Red Cross volunteers to come share resources and conduct a CPR or first aid training for those who live in your neighborhood.
If your neighborhood doesn’t already have a designated Facebook group, set one up and encourage neighbors to join. Facebook is a simple and easy way to communicate with each other, share ideas and offer and get help from those who live near you.
Keep in mind that if this year’s date (September 18) doesn’t work for you, it’s more about setting aside a specific day to get together with your neighbors, rather than the day itself. Plan a day that works well for most of your neighbors, and at your event this year, go ahead and get next year’s event on the calendar.