This week, in continuation of our series, we’re discussing how to be a mindful neighbor. The biggest part of what makes up a place are the people that call it home. The culture of a place is just as tangible as its physical assets, and as a local there are things you can do to foster healthy community engagement and enhance the culture of the place you call home. Here are a few tips on how to be a mindful neighbor:
Meet your neighbors. This one is a no brainer when it comes to building community, yet it’s still something that needs to be said. This takes setting aside time. It takes effort to walk the extra 50 feet to say hello and introduce yourself. And yet, when you know the people who surround you, your place becomes sweeter, richer, more secure.
Walk places or ride your bike. Something super attractive about communities is their walkability. If your place has this asset, utilize it! Walking to dinner or to your local coffee shop or just strolling downtown is a great way to get outside and experience parts of your town that you wouldn’t be able to from your car. You might come across stores and restaurants you’ve never noticed before, and find a new favorite place. You will also likely run into people you know and start to be familiar with faces you don’t, which will make you feel far more connected to other members of your community. Biking is a great way to save gas, while getting you around town fast. When you get out of your car, you can wave at the people you pass, make more friends, make eye contact, and acknowledge the people that you share a place with!
Know the needs of your neighborhood. As a local, you are more invested and know your hometown better than anyone. So know what it’s lacking! Take notice of things you wish your town had or that you know your town needs, and start conversations about it. You can make more of a difference than you think just by expressing your own hopes and opinions about your place. Bring these concerns to elected officials, neighborhood groups, or town managers. Most of the time, people in leadership such as this are wanting to hear the voices and opinions of people just like you! I bet your neighbors feel the same way, and together you can bring necessary and desired change to your community!
Go to town meetings. Be an active member of your community! Going to town meetings is a great way to see what is going on behind the scenes in your town and hear what other community members are feeling and suggesting. Going to town meetings give you the opportunity to generate opinions on topics and to speak your voice. The purpose of these meetings is to better the community and determine what the community wants and needs. Do a quick search online for your town hall meetings. These are open to the public, and while you won't get a friendly text to specifically invite you, your presence and involvement is wanted! What better way to be involved in your town than to be there to share your insider perspective and cast your vote on important topics?
Read the local newspaper. Another great way to stay informed on what is going on in your town is read the local newspaper. This is a great way to stay up to date on local news and to hear about events that are going on in your town. If there are certain local issues you are deeply invested in, the local paper is a good way to find out when these topics are being discussed at town meetings so you can be there to contribute. You might also see a familiar face!
Promote your town. You are the best advocate and biggest fan of your place. Whenever you have the opportunity, tell people about it! Share your favorite spots on social media so other people will check them out. Give visitors suggestions. Be a spokesperson and a fan of your home town! The love that locals have fore their town can be a big factor in someone's decision to visit, or even move to, your town!
What do you love most about your town that makes it home? I know for me, it’s the people. So invest in your community. Prioritize community engagement and involvement and let your ideas, hopes, and dreams for your place be heard! Won’t you be my mindful neighbor?