52 Weeks of Neighboring - 4/16

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Tip of the Week – Take a walk in your neighborhood and collect trash.

This tip was inspired by one of our active SoCe Life friends. As a bit of an introvert, she found a good avenue for neighboring included walking her dog in her neighborhood. At the same time, she carried a couple of small trash bags so she could pick up trash along her walk. Our SoCe Life friend walks about a one-mile route around her neighborhood. When she first started this act of neighboring, she could barely make it halfway through her walk before her trash bags were full. Now, about 5 years later, she can make it almost the entire mile without seeing a single piece of trash.

Picking up trash may check off a good deed for the week, but how does it help us foster neighboring? We’re glad you asked! Picking up trash in your neighborhood is a great way to make yourself visible and available to your neighbors. The more out and about you are in your neighborhood, the more likely you are to find the opportunity to strike up a conversation.

As we sat and brainstormed about this neighboring experiment, we talked a bit about the importance of the mindset behind it. Picking up trash is a needs-based activity. There’s a need (trash to be picked up) and we’re addressing it (picking up the trash). When we do needs-based activities in our neighborhood, there are a couple of things to be careful of.

  1. It’s easy to be frustrated with the needs of our neighborhood and allow that frustration to carry into our neighboring acts. This can lead to blaming the neighborhood or even our neighbors. Instead, good neighboring flows out of our love and care for our neighborhood. When this happens, we serve our neighborhood not to fix it, but to reveal the beauty we already see in it.
  2. When serving our neighborhood, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expectancy – expecting our neighbors to serve us in return, expecting those in our neighborhood to stop littering, etc. This mindset can be dangerous too. But again, if we pick up trash because we care about our neighborhood and not because we expect something in return, we can avoid the trap of expectancy.

With all of this in mind, find a nice day, grab a trash bag, and help reveal the beauty in your neighborhood.

Happy neighboring!