I live in a beautiful cul-de-sac in the Pacific Beach/La Jolla area of San Diego. When we moved here several years ago we could see it was a great family neighborhood as evidenced by running kids all over the place, but surprised that the grown-ups weren’t out and about much. Throughout our yard we’re lucky to have several blooming citrus trees, peach and fig varieties. With our peach tree overflowing, I took the opportunity to introduce myself while delivering fruit around the cul-de-sac. Putting names to faces that I saw everyday was nice and made me feel more at home. Being friendly with the neighbors is great-we hear from the kids across the street about how our little black cat likes to sit on top of the chicken coop as the chickens lay eggs and the neighbors to the left of us share their apricot branches with us while we share our grapefruit! Last year when the neighbors were on vacation, their pool almost faced an overflow which we were able to prevent. Our delicious reward for being neighborly- Girl Scout cookies!
Do you know your neighbors? Whenever friends move into a new neighborhood, that’s my first question, “have you met your neighbors yet, what are they like?” Living in such close quarters as we commonly do here in San Diego, it’s kind of funny to hear that many people have lived in the same place for years without more than an occasional head nod to their neighbors. I know some folks aren’t the most out-going and prefer to keep to themselves, but getting to know the neighbors, even if just a little bit can be more than symbolic and very rewarding.
How Being Neighborly Can Benefit Us All
Here’s my favorite ways to share:
1. Start a neighborhood produce share or community garden. If each house on the block grew several different crops each season, you might not even need to visit the farmer’s market. This has awesome community enhancing implications!
- It’s environmentally friendly- less burning of fossil fuels to transport ourselves to and from the stores.
- Food is picked only when needed making it more nutrient dense.
- The act of gardening staves off lung cancer and other illnesses.
- Food that is grown closer to home and shared among close neighbors has less of a chance of being contaminated with harmful bacteria.
2. Start a neighborhood compost share to accompany your gardening. The results of composting at home:
- Saves water and electricity from constantly using the garbage disposal.
- Reduces garbage runs to neighborhoods and therefore less fossil fuels.
3. Create Well-Being & Social Conscientiousness
- Sharing offers a sense of belonging and overall well-being.
- Neighbors and communities that work in groups with common goals are more likely to influence others in the community when valuable resources such as money and fossil fuels are involved. Finances and the environment are two very influential drivers involved in sharing!
Extending Yourself Out Into The Community
This past Sunday we visited the Solana Beach Farmer’s Market and met some really nice local merchants and farmers. All of our goods purchased were locally grown and prepared sustainably. We had a cool day talking with folks about the value of small batch cooking, the vast environmental benefits of native plants, purchased a hearty new rosemary and aloe plant along with lettuce seed packs from Cedros Gardens, enjoyed a tasty cafe latte from Zinc Cafe & Market (we’ll be trying the gluten-free muffins next time for sure) and got hooked on some locally (Carlsbad) prepared “Bitchin” gluten-free, vegan pesto sauce-so fun and so delicious! It was awesome getting to know the folks that live, work and play just a few minutes north of us-always nice to gain inspiration from other communities to bring more value to your own!
Are you convinced that being neighborly can be a good thing… even if you’re shy? Bake some cookies, pick some fruit and go say hi. You never know what you’ll get talking about until you go plant yourself on your neighbor’s doorstep.
Have you developed an innovative program or community project? Does your community participate in something cool others might want to try? This is where your comments really come in handy, so please share away!