College Resident Assistants = Neighbors

College Resident Assistants = Neighbors

On Monday, Ryan and I had the opportunity to travel down to Winfield and meet with Resident Assistants (RAs) and other student leaders to explore ways that they can practicing neighboring in their dorms and apartments. It was a great group of students (42 in total) who were clearly excited to be welcoming new and returning students to campus this week.

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52 Weeks of Neighboring 8/5

52 Weeks of Neighboring 8/5

Tip of the Week – Cook a recipe for which you are missing an ingredient and ask a neighbor for the missing item.
For those of you that struggle with the awkwardness and fear that can accompany neighboring, this week’s tip is for you. For you chatty Kathy’s out there, this week’s tip is for you. For everybody else… this week’s tip is for you too!

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52 Weeks of Neighboring - 7/15

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Tip of the Week – Barbeque in the front yard instead of the back yard.

This week’s neighboring experiment is an easy one. There’s nothing to add to your schedule or anything to plan. This week, all you have to do is move your grill.

Quiz time – What is the leading feature of most homes built since the 1990’s? Any guesses?... The garage! In recently-built homes, the most prominent feature from the anterior view of the home is the garage. This garage also commonly accompanies a small (er...tiny) porch and front door tucked away farther from the street. Another common feature? A privacy fence.

If your home includes these features, it doesn't mean your a bad person, or even a bad neighbor. However, it can make neighboring more difficult. There can be an implied level of seclusion that feels unwelcoming to neighbors and makes it tough for community to develop. To overcome these designs, we have to be creative.  

So this week, instead of cooking out in the backyard, move the barbeque to the front yard. This small neighboring experiment accomplishes two important things: it makes you human and it makes you available.

  • Being human – In most social circles, we tend to put on our best face. We do it at work, at church, at the grocery store, and even with our neighbors. Allowing your neighbors to see you barbequing makes you relatable and down to earth. It allows your neighbor to think, “Hey, that guy wears cargo shorts and eats hotdogs too! Maybe we’re not so different after all.”
  • Being available – Barbequing in the front yard provides a neighboring essential: it makes you available to those around you. Your presence in the front yard gives you a chance to have a conversation with the neighbor walking his dog or kids riding their bikes. Maybe a neighbor has wanted to ask you for some gardening tips or to borrow your crockpot. Barbequing in the front yard gives them that chance.

Don’t have a grill? Give yourself a break from doing dishes, grab some paper plates, and take your dinner to the front porch. Live in an apartment or dorm?  Look for a community area, like a pool or picnic area and hang out there. If not, look for neutral ground, like a lawn or park to host a potluck. People are much more likely to participate in social events if they don’t have to enter a space where they don’t yet feel comfortable, i.e. inside your house/apartment.

Happy neighboring!

Meeting New Neighbors, Making New Friends

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If there is one element that neighboring never ceases to provide, it is surprise. Neighboring never ceases to surprise! This morning, we were in for one.

A mother and son came to the office asking to help build garden boxes. They had seen the boxes around the neighborhood and wanted to help build some, too. Stunned, we all just kind of stood there for a moment, surprised. Did we hear them correctly? Here were two neighbors we had never even met who literally came knocking on the door, asking if they could help build garden boxes! It turns out that we did hear them correctly. We had the pleasure of meeting these two neighbors with great energy and an extreme willingness to help and were able to continue constructing our newest box together. After talking and working together more, it became clear that their connection to the movement was much more than just garden boxes. The mother has both a deep love for Wichita and a powerful vision for the safety of the community as a whole. She longs for her children to be able to walk down the street in the same way that she was able to as a child. These two have inspired us, and we look forward to being able to work with them more in the future!

This morning, we had the pleasure of meeting two new neighbors. This morning, we had the pleasure of making two new friends.

Watch Out for that Tree

Watch Out for that Tree

Last Saturday evening, we went out onto Adam's front porch to relax and jam with our instruments. It was a bit cloudy outside with a cool breeze, but we did not think much of it. About half way through the first song, a wall of wind blew through the trees and down the road, coming right at us. Instruments went flying as we were both literally and figuratively blown away by this unexpected gust. 

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52 Weeks of Neighboring - 7/1

52 Weeks of Neighboring - 7/1

Tip of the Week – Celebrate the 4th of July! (Or Canada Day if you are one of our neighbors to the north!) 

Get out the sparklers and hot dogs – the fourth of July is right around the corner, and Canada Day is celebrated on July 1. These summer holidays offer fantastic neighboring opportunities. Here is a quick brainstorm list we came up with:

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Recruiting Neighborhood Animators

Recruiting Neighborhood Animators

This week we have been invited to speak to several neighborhood groups to let them know about the Neighborhood Animator Project that we are launching. On Tuesday, we spoke to the Hilltop Activities Committee and the Hilltop Neighborhood Association. I was impressed with both of these organizations. They are great at hospitality, …

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52 Weeks of Neighboring - 6/24

52 Weeks of Neighboring - 6/24

Tip of the Week – Host Flamingo Friday on your block or in your apartment complex.
Flamingo Friday is a tradition we heard of through the grapevine as we’ve learned neighboring strategies from others. Here’s how it works:
Place a few plastic yard flamingos in your front yard on Monday. For the very first Flamingo Friday, also deliver a paper invitation…

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