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!