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Q&A: How will YOU make your community better?

May is all about relationships and community service with Simple Living Media.  The past few weeks, we’ve discussed (sometimes pretty fervently) what it means to be a good neighbor, whether it’s important to know our surrounding neighbors, and at what level do we allow our children to play freely in our living environments.

These are all important factors in helping us thrive wherever we live, be it a high-rise in an urban metropolis or a wide-open farm with horses as the nearest neighbors.

Regardless where or how we live, we all live in community, to some extent.  And communities need its people to make the place what it is, and what it should be. A few weeks ago, contributor Megan Tietz gave us some fabulous ideas for encouraging a tighter-knit community — spearheaded by us.

Be the agent of change you want

Q Ampersand sculpture KMcElman_100416_0096

So often, we wish our communities were different, safer, or friendlier, but we rarely do our part to change that.  We wish, and move on.  Here is today’s discussion question:

What are you going to do this summer to change one thing about your neighborhood?  Think of the main thing you wish were different about where you live, and think of one small way you (or your family) can help change that.

Make a concrete plan for something to happen (“organize a block party for July 4,” for example, or “invite the new family down the street over for dinner next week”), and then share it in the comments section!

Be as detailed or as rambling as you want — perhaps others will give you ideas.  Let’s take these grievances we have about our communities and make them agents of change, instead of just hoping someone would do something.

I look forward to reading your ideas!

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  1. Alaina @ Three Ladies and a Dad

    I just asked for help on my blog for things to do with my girls this summer! As a mom who has never been a SAHM mom for the summer, I need help with ideas. This post will surely give me a few ideas.

    Thanks so much!

  2. Shawna

    My husband and I are newly married and without kids, but I enjoy reading your blog because I know that’s where I’ll be someday and even with only two in the house, there is plenty of managing to be done. At present, we live out on a rural road with only two neighbors, unless you count the cows across the street. But we are moving to the city this summer. I’d like to make an effort to get to know my neighbors better. We will be living in on-campus apartments at a college, so I know that we will have plenty in common with our neighbors. But even when that’s no longer the case—once we do have kids and we get a house or something—I’d like to reach out to them and rekindle that neighborly feeling that seemed to be more prevalent in previous decades in America. When you know and trust your neighbors, you’re never too far away from friends. I think some brownie baking is in order for the first week after we move in August.
    .-= Shawna´s last blog ..Donate Your Time (Or Money, If You Have Any) =-.

  3. Angela

    I’m setting up a plant exchange for this fall. People can divide up their perrenials and bring/exchange/share them with other neighbors.

    Outside my immediate neighborhood, I am now volunteering with the Fuller Center for Housing. A great organization that works with existing homeowners to make repairs and improvements to their homes. I’m VERY excited!
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..FPU Alumni =-.

  4. Herbwifemama

    We just bought a house, and we’re going to welcome ourselves to the neighborhood with a cookout, so we can get to know our neighbors.

    • Kara Fleck

      taking the initiative and welcoming yourselves to the neighborhood – fantastic! 🙂

      You guys have got some great ideas and I love how you’re willing to step out of your comfort zones a bit and make new friends and get to know people. Somebody has to take the first step, and it looks like we’ve got a lot of you here willing to do that! Love it!
      .-= Kara Fleck´s last blog ..Homemade Baby Food 101 For the Modern Mom – Part I =-.

  5. marissa

    My family plans to take an evening walk around the neighborhood at least once a week. Hopefully we will meet more neighbors this way!

    • Nichole

      My family just moved in to our small-town neighborhood and been doing just that. A walk every day adds lots of good exercise to our lives and we’ve met 4-5 different families of the same age just in these last 2 weeks. Also, gardening in your front yard. Just be willing to stop working so you can chat with your neighbors that stop by!

  6. Greta @ Mom Living Healthy

    We just moved to this neighborhood and so far I have no complaints! Every seems very friendly. Some have come right over to introduce themselves and I’ve gone over to others to say hi. We moved from a city to a smaller town, so the difference is such a positive one for us. I think one of the other commenters had a great idea about hosting a cookout to meet neighbors.
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..Starting the Day off Right =-.

  7. Bryony Boxer

    My neighbors and I are panning to do a block party so that we can finally get to know each other better!

  8. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Oh, love this follow-up post, Tsh! I am ALL TOO GOOD at dreaming without putting feet to it.

    A friend and I have plans in the works to create a community-wide “come and get it” event. We both have a ton of stuff we were going to sell in yard sales, but after hearing Rob Bell speak on “leaving a corner” in the NOOMA series, we both feel led to organize a community-wide event where people can bring stuff they don’t want and invite the community to come take what they need.

    I would also like to do something along the lines of Eren’s suggestion in that Summer Activities post with an ice cream social in our driveway for our neighbors. That just sounds like a good time!

    Can’t wait to see what everyone else is planning!
    .-= Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog ..URGENT REQUEST FOR PRAYER – Princess G is getting a new heart! =-.

  9. heidi @ wonder woman wannabe

    our ‘hood has had several block parties over the years – not sure if one is in the works for this summer or not – I’d take leadership on, but we’re gearing up for a big move!

    One thing I have done is plan with a neighbor to trade child care over the summer. Her hubby is in military training for 90 days so she’ll really need a break now and then. She’s training for a marathon, so I’ll watch her kiddos for a few hours a week while she runs and once in a while she’ll watch mine – win, win for each of us!
    .-= heidi @ wonder woman wannabe´s last blog ..Monday Musings::Womens Work =-.

  10. A Simple Twist of Faith

    The idea of a block party is a great idea, we live at the end of the street so that might be the ideal location. I am going to throw some ideas around with my immediate neighbors, sometimes I think it is better if you do some one- on- one socializing first.
    .-= A Simple Twist of Faith´s last blog ..Friday Night at Salon Richard “rish-ARD” =-.

  11. Katie ~ Simple Organic

    We live in a more rough neighborhood and we know all the kids on our street because they are always outside unsupervised playing. We don’t know any of the parents, though – I guess they are either inside or not home?!? I want to try and get to know some of the parents. This will also require me to brush up on my meager Spanish, which I want to do anyway!

    • Dana

      Katie, I am in the same situation! Our next door neighbors are fantastic and they are always outside WITH their 6 yr old boy. But the rest of the young kids on the street are allowed to run freely. We know them all b/c there is no way we’ll allow our 3 and 2 year olds out without us. All the kids congregate in our front yard. It amazes me that these parents don’t want to know the adults that their children are spending time with. I’ve even had kids knock on the door and ask to come in my home to play and say that “Mommy said it’s okay.” I couldn’t believe it!!!

  12. Jenn H

    We started a community tennis program this month in our Small Town, USA. Even though my family and I will be moving this summer, it’s rewarding to know that we were a part of something positive.

  13. Elizabeth

    Our neighborhood is naturally “enclosed” and, therefore, somewhat small. My kids, however, still exist largely in the little coccoon of our house and yard. I would love for them to get to know the other kids in our neighborhood and I’d like to know the parents better, too, so I am planning to pull together two of their favorite things this summer: chalk and popsicles. Our driveway and sidewalk are big enough to accommodate a lot of art and I think a great way to get to know all the kids is to have them over, all at once, to have a draw-in followed by popsicles, parents welcome.

    • Chris

      I love this idea! Chalk is so cheap and no one has ever complained of my daughter’s art in the street before, so inviting all the kids/families to join in would be a great way to get to know each other!
      .-= Chris´s last blog ..Adventures in Park, Adventures in Palate =-.

  14. Melaniesd

    I have volunteered to help fundraise for a new playground for our elementary school. While it is for the school children, it will benefit the whole community.

  15. Emily

    We’re going to work on having our neighbors over for cook-outs this summer. I’ve been here almost 10 years so I know most of them but not well. We live in a commercial/residential area where most of us have a shop in the front or below our homes so it’s pretty easy to stop by their shop and get to know them!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..painted =-.

  16. Kelly

    I love that you are focusing on community! I decided when my daughter was born (a month ago) that building a stronger community was really important. In NYC, it is tougher than you would think. I’m working on organizing a friends of group to improve our local park, am gathering together as many new moms as I can find and trying to make a point to *gasp* meet my neighbours. Please keep up the tips! Thanks.

  17. Ellie

    I shall be working myself hard hopefully setting up a Keep Wales Tidy commnity group for my class and school to enhance the local community through litter picks, guerilla gardening etc and to give my kids some curriculum enhancement!
    .-= Ellie´s last blog ..New Space Upgrades =-.

  18. Lauren

    We moved in last fall, and both our next door neighbors were so welcoming. They even brought baked goodies over! We want to have them over for dinner sometime this summer, and one of them was talking about throwing a block party together this summer. I’m just not used to having such nice neighbors! In my parents’ neighborhood the houses are so spaced apart, we hardly ever saw our neighbors. Thanks for all the encouragement! I think community is so important to foster, and it all comes down to being willing to step out of my comfort zone.

  19. Chris

    On the small scale, I’ve been taking time to talk to my neighbors when I pass them on walks, etc. I’ve learned about new babies, job interviews, fences blowing over… I feel like it all helps to create community.
    My husband and I also want to host a get together for public service employees in our neighborhood and the surrounding ones. He’s in EMS and we know of several others from his department and other local departments that live in this general area. I think it’d be helpful for all of us who have that tie to get to know each other. We all know what it’s like to live with a variety of schedules that are ever fluctuating and we could be a real help to each other. We just plan on reserving a pavilion in the neighborhood and having a potluck, telling everyone we know to include other PS Employees they know. Nothing fancy – it’s just about getting to know one another.
    I’m also slowly stepping up my involvement in our HOA. I attended the annual meeting and I’ve volunteered at events, but we only have three a year right now. I’m hoping to change that by getting in there and planning an ice cream social, perhaps in June, and a 4th of July (closest weekend) event. Perhaps just before school starts we can have a back to school event too, and send a letter to the local school district bus service to invite all the bus drivers that will be attending our neighborhood on their routes. I’ve had a variety of ideas rolling around in my head, and I want to get them out there. The HOA treasurer told me (I always make a point of talking to him when our paths cross!) if I can get him the plans and the numbers he’ll help make sure I get the money! I’ve noticed the HOA website isn’t kept up to date very well either (forms and pictures), so I’m hoping some encouragement will fix that, and I also plan on offering to help with the newly forming community newsletter.
    Personally, I believe the opporunities are limitless, regardless of what and whom you consider your community. Honestly, I think we each belong to several communities and quite often we get to know one and then fall back on it, neglecting to also get to know our other communities. My goal is get to know something about the people in all of them – the people on my block, the local families in our ‘shoes’ (or boots!), and our neighborhood as a whole. In another year or two I’d like to add city, but I can only handle so much at once!
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Adventures in Park, Adventures in Palate =-.

  20. susie

    My friend hosts a Sunday Sundaes. She provides vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. She asks others to bring a spoon and bowl for themselves and a topping to share.


  21. Sarah al-rashid

    IM BOREDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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