Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Won't you be my (friendly) neighbor?

I had to smile when I read a comment on my post about the impromptu porch party about us having a friendly neighborhood. I'm sure the people that live around us are very nice, though we haven't met anyone new. The neighbors who stopped by last week are acquaintances of ours who work at the college.

I've been kind of surprised that no one has introduced themselves, especially since this is a small town in the rural Midwest. Am I naive or old-fashioned to think that this is a kind and reasonable gesture?

After living on campus for so long, where our neighbors were close friends and colleagues, this is a new ball game, despite our close proximity to our former home.

Don't get me wrong--I don't expect a red carpet to be laid out on our driveway, nor am I exempting myself from neighborly responsibility. I'm just wondering what that "responsibility" is. I mentioned to Eric that maybe we could host an ice cream social later this summer for the people on our block, so we'll see what happens with that. And of course my sister is an excellent model for reaching out to neighbors!

I'd be interested to hear from you--do you reach out to your neighbors or vice versa? What are some ways you've been a friendly neighbor to someone else, or how has a neighbor done something thoughtful for you?

Note: I had to laugh when I saw Amy's post on this very topic on Friday, as I had already written this post so it would be ready to go. She and I are often on the same wavelength!


Angela - Life w/ One Busy Boy said...

I was shocked when I moved to our house 8 years ago when a neighbor brought us an entire spaghetti dinner as we moved in. However, that is a rare occurance. I have made muffins, pies, etc for neighbors as they have moved in and have not been especially well received but I continue to do it all the same. I recently saw balloons on someone's mailbox for a new baby and thought of bringing them something but didn't. I wish I would have now.

thehomespunheart said...

I can't remember anyone welcoming us either. I guess we are a bit old fashioned in keeping the neighborly relationships alive! I hope you have your Ice Cream Social and I am interested to read other responses!
I loved Amy's post last week too!
Love you,

Tracy said...

I mus admit that I've let the ball drop. Partly because in my last house, when I was new on the block, and went to introduce myself, I had a woman actually turn and enter her home, and close the door. I got the message LOUD and CLEAR!

We weren't welcomed into the neighborhood here either. I long for days of old, but I've sat on my own hands, too.

Mom said...

Dear Carrie, I'll be interested to hear about your neighborhood ice cream social! :)

I'm not sure why neighbors don't interact as much as they used to -- Dad is better at getting acquainted with our neighbors than I am since he is outside working in the yard more often. I do take something to new neighbors as a welcome and introduce myself. For several years I have thought about having a holiday open house for the neighborhood -- maybe if I start planning now I can make it happen this year!

Love you, Mom

mer said...

We live in a great neighborhood. The DAY that we moved in, two neighbors brought us cookies. I try to do the same when I notice new neighbors.

A new family moved in next door to us last year, and about 6 weeks after they moved in, they hosted a neighborhood breakfast. It was actually on the 4th of July and they set up tables and chairs in their driveway and served eggs, sausage, biscuits and pancakes. WOW. Everyone stopped to eat on their way to the 4th of July parade downtown. It was so fun!

We've also had neighborhood street parties and bbqs. Honestly, I've never organized one of those, but we always go, and it's always a great time.

One thing that I did a couple of summers ago was a neighborhood craft night with the kids. We picked a simple craft, bought the stuff, and invited a dozen or so neighborhood kids over to assemble it together. It was raining so we did it in our garage instead of in the yard. It was such a hit, that other families did the same thing and invited us to make a craft with them. We're thinking of doing that again this summer.

Usually around Halloween and Christmas, we get surprise packages on our doorstep (with a ring-the-bell and run notice) and the idea is to reciprocate the next day.

I know this is getting long, but another neighbor started a Bunco group. All twelve of us live within 2 blocks of each other, and Bunco is one of my most looked forward to activities.

We are so blessed to live in a neighborhood with lots of kids and families. One of my favorite things is standing outside on the sidewalk in the summertime, talking while our kids play!

Megan D. Crow said...

First off, I never properly thanked you for sending me the magazine - thanks so much! I've really enjoyed it & the thoughtfulness meant even more to me.

As far as neighbors, I don't have much advice because we've only lived in apts. and haven't ever known any of our neighbors.

However, I did hear of some friends that when they bought their new home they made baskets of muffins and THEY went around introducing themselves and meeting there neighbors...I think the values of "loving your neighbors" and being a community are sometimes slipping away...and I loved this idea of a "reversal" on new-neighbor introductions. I plan on stealing this idea when we have a home!

Linds said...

I was very suprised when we moved into our home that most of our neighbors didn't come to visit. There was an older lady across the street who came to say hi and tell us that our neighborhood wasn't very friendly. :(

We've since met many of our neighbors but it took a long time and wasn't the 'neighborhood environment' I was expecting. We try to take treats at Christmas to our neighbors and when we have a new neighbor I will most certainly be over there saying hello.

gail said...

you've gotton lots of good comments but i'll add mine nonetheless =)

its taken us a long time to get to know our n'bors here, but when we lived in WA we had great n'bors. we did the summer bar'b'q picnic at our house for the block one year. it was a hit. we had our son that year and a n'bor brought cookies for us. not everyone was a gift/food bringer, but everyone knew each other and looked out for each other. that was so helpful. i still miss that n'borhood.

we are interested in how it'll be up in boise on campus. i plan on introducing myself to the others in our bldg, but don't know if i'll bring muffins or cookies. and i'm sure i'll meet some of the mom's in the bldgs while they are outside with their kiddo's. they have an enclosed play area for the kiddos which i'm so happy about.

i think we are just a different society than it was years ago, and i think we move around alot more than our parents and grandparents did, so people don't put into n'bors relationships like they used to.

Ewokgirl said...

No one welcomed us when we moved in 9 years ago. However, we did get to know the neighbors immediately around us not too long after.

Only once have I managed to bring a treat over to new neighbors to welcome them. I always mean to do it when I've noticed that someone moved in, but sometimes it's just not obvious. And I forget. I think it's one of those old-fashioned things that no one really does anymore since most people work and are super busy with the kids and such.

Amy said...

Great minds DO think alike, Carrie! I think we all have been spoiled by the images of your sister :) We just expect it to be like that... sadly, it often is not. Maybe if you make the first step though towards that hospitality, you could be an example for how to be neighborly to others. I know no one did this for me, but I feel like I need to bless our neighbors as much as we can. I run meals when I see a new addition or when our neighbor had cancer, I brought a meal to her family. You could start a great trend for others to look to :)

Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

At the very least, I think you should go welcome a new neighbor and introduce yourself. Taking cookies would be nice; a dinner close to their moving in time would be even nicer.

We were blessed to have a family move in next door in December. They actually went to church with my sister-in-law and her family in another state before becoming our new neighbors! Of course, this made it very easy for us to reach out to them, but I would hope I would have done something no matter who moved in!

Megan said...

We've found that we are seldom welcomed into a new place by the neighbors. Instead, we usually host a neighborhood "open house" about a month after moving - my husband makes a flyer, he and the girls go around passing them out to all the neighbors inviting them over for the 3 hour window for snacks and such. We usually get a handful of curious folks who have never had this happen before.

Our other big tactic is to introduce ourselves to neighbors on Halloween - trick or treat! Oh, by the way, we're the new neighbors who moved next door to you four months ago. *wink*

Jennifer said...

I live in a very rural area and just recently a young man down the road got married. We have known him for a long time, but only recently met his wife when they had a yard sale.

They are now expecting a baby and she is home a lot during the day by herself. Many times I think to myself..."I should go by and visit her". With 5 children of my own...the day flies by and then it is dinnertime.

You have inspired me to go this afternoon when my husband gets home from work!

We all need to slow down a little and encourage others...especially someone new to the neighborhood!

I don't personally know you, but your blog tells me that you are well worth knowing. I will pray that God will bring the right neighbors into your life!

Blessings ~ Jennifer

A, B & C said...

I've lived in the South, Midwest, New England, and Europe... in towns that only had a few thousand to large cities like Chicago, Paris, and Rome. I have found that friendliness varies based on the people who live around you. We lived in one small town in the midwest that was very unfriendly, but we had great neighbors in Paris, a city, of all places!

If there isn't much friendliness amongst your neighbors, it depends on you. Just take walks often, or spend time on your porch. If neighbors are outside doing something, drop your current chore, and find something to do outside, so you can talk. The ice cream social is a great idea. From there, when you find out who is really friendly, you can organize more get-togethers with those you have the most in common with! Also, make sure you always put on your thick skin. If you make a gesture or try to talk to someone, and they aren't friendly, then that's on them. You may feel silly, but it's really the unfriendly neighbor that should feel silly.

Good luck reaching out to your neighbors!

Wendy said...


I just wrote about this last week.

I use baking as a way to meet and get to know our neighbors. I am so thankful to God that He has given me a desire to bake. It is truly a joy to create something to share with another person.

Susan said...

We have pretty ok neighbors here. THey are all friendly...however private and NEVER home. I will walk by people and say a hello, but they will not look at you. It is so bizarre.But my in law's neighbors are a hoot. They all have kids and the kids play with each other.