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 – 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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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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52 Weeks of Neighboring - 6/17

52 Weeks of Neighboring - 6/17

Tip of the Week – Bake your favorite goodies and deliver them to your local police or fire station.

Last week’s neighboring tip called for a green thumb – this week’s calls for oven mitts. It can be anything from cookies, banana bread, or even your special family recipe snack mix!

Delivering snacks to these personnel is a great way to neighbor for a few reasons:

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Treasure Hunting in SoCe

Treasure Hunting in SoCe

Last week, I had the pleasure of going treasure hunting in SoCe.

            Let me explain.

            Our neighbors are gardening like crazy, and one desired dirt for some raised garden beds she was planning to construct in her backyard. Another one of our neighbors has been able to provide us with dirt in the past, so we called him up and asked if he knew of any that’s available. Sure enough, this neighbor just so happens to be working extensively in his backyard right now, so he has had tons of topsoil he desires to be dug out! So, there I was…

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Project Wichita Listening Event

Project Wichita Listening Event

A few weeks ago SoCe Life had the opportunity to host a listening conversation in partnership with the Wichita Community Foundation and the City of Wichita. The goal was to gather input from folks about the future of Wichita and the Wichita region. We were one of several hosts.

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52 Weeks of Neighboring - 6/2

52 Weeks of Neighboring - 6/2

Neighboring Tip of the Week - Reacquaint yourself with an old acquaintance. 

Is there a neighbor you have talked to in the past, but eventually lost touch with? This week, our guest blogger invites you to re-introduce yourself to this neighbor. 

We love learning from other folks, and this week’s tip is from a good neighbor who lives north of Wichita and was willing to write a guest tip for us. Enjoy!

Like many of you, I read and have been inspired by SoCe's 52 weeks of Neighbouring tips. So here's a tip of my own "Reacquaint yourself with an old acquaintance." 

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52 Weeks of Neighboring - 5/27

52 Weeks of Neighboring - 5/27

Neighboring Tip of the Week - Develop your love for your neighborhood by writing down 3 things each day that you like about your neighborhood.

Greetings friends! Can you believe June is almost upon us?

After reading this week’s tip, you may be asking yourself, “How does practicing this experiment help us to become better neighbors?”

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