Pitching In Around the Neighborhood
Neighborhoods are a valuable but often overlooked resource. You and your neighbors can create a more closely-knit community right where you live. Here are just a few ideas for pitching in around your neighborhood and finding ways to socialize, work together and build a network of support.
Create a map of your neighbors’ talents
It’s a good idea to have a blockwatch map, with the contact numbers of those who live nearby to call in case of an emergency. Why not add to this map by having your neighbors write down their skills and interests? You might discover that many of the services you now seek out elsewhere are available right around the corner.
Seek out common space
You don’t need to live together to share space. Take a cue from one Northwest urban neighborhood, where a block of six homeowners decided to take down hedges and fences that separated their small yards in order to create a green belt bigger than any nearby park, where all of the neighborhood kids now play freely and safely.
A weekly potluck or group dinner is a great way to reduce responsibilities for meal preparation. It’s also an opportunity to catch-up on neighborhood news and a fun way to make new friends. One way to sell the idea to your neighbors is by taking a few pointers from cohousing practices: to offset costs for the hosts suggest that everyone pitch in a little cash (usually $2.50 to $5 covers it) and make sure that guests know it’s their job to clean up afterwards. Rotate houses 1-3 times per week.
Start a food-buying club
One way to really save money on high-quality natural or organic foods is by organizing a group of like-minded neighbors and forming a food-buying club. You’ll have your food delivered at warehouse prices.
Host a swap meet
Clothing, kitchen equipment, linens, kid’s toys, even surplus produce from the garden — think about all the things that tend to pile up and go unused. Swap meets are a great way to recycle your extras, and to trade for things you don’t have, rather than purchasing them new. Large or expensive goods like tools, transportation vehicles or outdoor gear might be available to borrow from a neighbor, in exchange for something else you can provide.
Plan outdoor clean-up days
Consider organizing monthly chore days, when everyone focuses on a particular task and gets it done together. You can choose to work on projects that benefit the entire neighborhood, like improving a local playground or painting over graffiti. Or, you can come together to work on a different individual home, rotating whose space gets attention, so that jobs too big for one person to accomplish alone get done with the help of neighbors — like painting a basement or digging a large vegetable garden. Whatever you put your collective effort towards, it will improve your neighborhood and bring people closer together.