Quick name all your neighbors, and i don’t mean…”the hipster guy with the beard”, I mean their actual names. Just first names – don’t break your brain…. go ahead i’ll wait……………………………give up? If you couldn’t remember most, you are pretty normal. Make a list on paper put it on the fridge, actually make a map and put their names on their locale, when you learn a new one add it. It’s okay to say ‘i’m sorry i don’t remember your name’, it may feel weird but don’t worry people will blank out odd harmless behavior. After all if they collapse shoveling during snowmageddon you will need a name to give the paramedics.
—-Interact with your neighbors whenever the opportunity presents. You might not interact with your neighbors on a daily basis, but it’s good to know they are there. The days of borrowing a cup of sugar are not gone, though these days it’s probably something like: can I use your cell phone my battery has died and my power’s out. Have you seen my cat, dig, ferret, pig, goat etc?
—-If you see their trash-can sashaying down the street in a high wind, corral it up and put it in their driveway. Even if they never know about it, it’s nice to think they would do the same for you.
—-Keep an eye out for packages left in the rain. You may feel uncomfortable removing it. but it won’t hurt to put a trash bag around it.
—-If there is a neighborhood group, join it…. you really only have to show up at the yearly cookout, WITH something even if it’s ice.
—-Keep an eye or ear out in case someone is in need. If the woman with a hip replacement needs her groceries carried or dog walked, seize the chance. If you can’t do it every time, rope in someone else and switch off.
—-Vote in local elections, the results will effect you too.
—-If you can’t participate in neighborhood clean ups, then make a point of picking up lose trash when you are out and about.
—-Offer to ‘watch’ other people’s houses while they are on vacation. this usually only means keeping the spare key and their contact phone number on hand in case of emergency. or it could mean watering some plants. Usually pets are cared for by much closer friends.
—-TRY to decorate outside your door… even if you don’t participate in a holiday… a door wreath can be completely seasonal, or a planter of flowers, or a pumpkin. just changing the ‘look’ of your doorway or porch a couple of times a year, softens up your image and makes you appear more approachable. if your abode looks the same 365 days a year, how can anyone be sure you are alive?
—-Keep the noise down. If you think you may get a little loud, warn people ahead of time that they can let you know. You can either leave notes are doors, or just invite the neighbors to the party.
—-If you have a rarely used thing, offer to loan it: Shrub trimmer, Sawzall, roof rake, wheelbarrow, gutter hose. They may never take you up on it, but the gesture will collect you some karma points and they may have something YOU want to borrow, even if it is just someone to hold the ladder while you change your floodlights.
—-A good rule of thumb is not to let your outdoor housekeeping fall too far behind everyone else’s. Spreading weed seeds may or may not endear you to your neighborhood, but bringing down property values definitely WILL.
—-Share your garden bounty. It is as easy as handing someone a zucchini when you have too many. Best case is when you exchange vegetables that the other hasn’t planted.
—-Frost was being ironic when he said ‘good fences make good neighbors’, but good fences do make good boundaries. Keep your crap on your side of the fence, even if the fence is imaginary. Branches, etc.. that hang over their side are at risk of getting pruned, so don’t be surprised if it does. Talk to your neighbor before it becomes a problem, offer to prune it yourself. They are probably FINE with it, but they like knowing that you know that you are encroaching.
—-When the neighbors are overstepping either with noise or other crimes, always give them the benefit of the doubt and a small nudge. Remember the first one who calls the cops becomes the asshole.
—-Don’t forget to show gratitude to your neighbors. Send a thank you or a condolence when appropriate – and they need not be store bought cards. a hand written note holds great power.
Neighbors are an invisible emergency support system. Who will call you if there is an emergency at your home? who will share their fireplace when the power goes out? you never know.