by Diana Nelson Jones/Dec 28
Returning to my neighborhood from a holiday visit out of state, I was grateful to see that the sidewalk in front of my house had been cleared of snow and delighted that neighbors who live in the alley behind my house had delivered a bag of homemade cookies.
Living among connected neighbors is one of the great rewards in life.
Connectedness is what brought a group of friends together to form The Neighbors Project in 2006. On their website, http://www.neighborsproject.org/, they describe themselves as part of "a growing movement" and state their mission as
"... to inspire and train members of the new urban generation to connect with their neighbors through projects that improve the neighborhood for everyone.
"The movement was started in fall 2006 by a group of friends who were concerned about both the increasing polarization of our country due to expanding suburban sprawl and the polarization in our city neighborhoods due to increasing gentrification.
"We looked around at our friends in our 20s and 30s and realized that many of us are actually ready, willing and able to help bridge those divides, but we needed a push. So we formed Neighbors Project to help people do what they already seem to want to do: Enjoy our neighborhoods while simultaneously making them -- and the country -- better for everyone."
Hooray for the resiliency of people to believe in the possibility of brotherhood and harmony. Strong neighborhood connections give us large doses of B&H. My neighborhood ups the ante by bringing sweets into the mix. (Aside from the cookies from Steve and Sonya, my neighbor Jana bakes and delivers whole cakes to people on our street at Christmas.)
The optimists at The Neighbors Project (whose web site includes an image of the Chinese Poem house on Sampsonia Way in the Central Northside) have compiled a good-neighbor checklist. Most of the deeds on it take little time but matter a lot. Although I am a sweets slouch on my street, I do most of the things the check-list recommends.
A few of my favorites are:
Jog in the street if the sidewalks are crowded;
Don't automatically fight against the opening of a homeless shelter or drug recovery clinic in your neighborhood;
Be open to new architecture;
Shop at your neighborhood farmers market;
Keep your trash vermin-proof when you put it out for collection.
To see how well you measure up as a neighbor, read the entire list at http://www.neighborsproject.org/pages/checklist/4.php