I have been thinking about some of my favorite door-knocking experiences from this summer. During the 8 Front Doors Initiative, we deliver a weekly card to the houses in our neighborhood. At first, the cards had a neighboring tip on one side and, on the other, quotes about the benefits of neighboring. Now, instead of tip cards, we are handing out culture cards. These are based on an article by John McKnight entitled Peacemaking Powers and the Culture they Create. If we meet any neighbors when we are out delivering the cards, we ask a question about the topic on the card. The first culture card in our deck was the kindness card. McKnight describes kindness as “the power to care.” When we met neighbors out on their front porches, we asked them where they saw kindness on their block. Hearing even one story of kindness on each street gave me hope and made me feel more connected on those blocks.
During the week of the kindness cards, the first person we visited was a gentleman who was sitting out on his porch in the evening. We handed him the card and asked where he saw kindness on his block. He spoke generally of how the neighbors closest to him watch out for each other. Then he commented that he had just delivered dinner to his neighbors. He explained that he used to be a professional chef and misses cooking for groups. He had prepared a meal with meat and potatoes and vegetables and even warm cornbread! He laughed that his neighbors really like it when he cooks. I bet they do!
Farther on down the street, we chatted with a neighbor and asked him about kindness. He, again, talked about the people in the houses nearest him all watching out for each other. He mentioned that he had been mowing the grass for the new neighbor two houses over because she did not yet have a lawn mower. How kind!
In the next block, there was a resident who told us that he didn’t really see too much kindness going on. However, later in the conversation he talked about how he sometimes rolled his trash can across the street so that the guys remodeling the home there could use it and not have to haul all their trash away. That was a simple kindness, but I am sure it was very helpful to the recipients.
As we continue neighboring – whether it be easy or challenging, may we have an eye for kindness.