Monday, June 22, 2015

How to build community - greet people

The proposed Mifflin Street Little Free Museum.

My 2015 New Year's Resolution is to work through the popular "How to build community" poster. This week, "Greet people."

Last week, my friend Liz stopped over to pick me up to go to a community theater production. She asked to come over early so we could walk around the gardens and visit the chicken coop together. As we were approached the front yard, Dave waved from across the street. A few minutes later, we talked with our next door neighbor Matt about his newest project, a Little Free Museum.

As we drove away, Liz remarked that her neighborhood was similarly friendly, chatty and open to conversation. She contrasted this with a story a friend of hers related not long ago. He had been visiting Liz and noticed how friendly people were, that they gardened together, had shared backyards for pets and children and even had community meals together.

His neighborhood, however, isn't as friendly. He told Liz that neighbors didn't greet one another, they didn't look up when they were walking around and to top it off, dogs had to have DNA tests done "So they could identify who's poop was being left around." My jaw dropped.

"Seriously?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied.
"Who has the time to scoop poop and check it's DNA?"
"Apparently they have hired people who do that," she answered.


My first thought was that with a little more greeting, there would probably be a little less poop leaving. It's hard to let your dog leave a turd on the lawn of someone you've gotten to know, who you'll see tomorrow or the next day, who will wave across the street.

My second thought was that some people simply don't want what Liz and I like about our respective neighborhoods. And, that's ok. However, there is growing evidence that as society moves toward more online "social" interactions, we're missing actual human contact and some people end up feeling lonely.

A simple hello across the fence or across the street could turn into a delightful, social interaction.