OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Know Thy Neighbor

Community revitalization starts with the people closest to you - and it doesn't need to cost a penny!

Photo of DeletedUser
5 11

Written by DeletedUser

"Somehow in our society it’s become completely acceptable to live side by side with people – driveway to driveway – for years and decades at a time, and not know each other. There’s no stigma attached to that; why is that?" - Peter Lovenheim

A good starting point for restoring vibrancy in cities is reversing the anti-social trends that have become commonplace in American cities over the last several decades. The best part is that building trust and fulfilling relationships with neighbors is cheap and easy!

  • Ring the doorbell and say hello.
  • Finally take your neighbor out for that beer you promised 5 years ago when you first moved in.
  • Utilize the oft-neglected front yard if you have one.
  • Host a potluck for neighbors on your street or in your apartment building.
  • If there's an activity you usually perform inside that can be easily taken to a community gathering space, try it there.
  • Bake cookies for your neighbors. Who doesn't like cookies?

Additional DIY community-building:

Five ways to strengthen your neighborhood: http://www.peterlovenheim.com/strengthen.php

Throw a neighborhood party: http://www.tempe.gov/cpu/GAIN

5 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Lovely project. This is how people in Japan used to do but it has been going away. Would love to regain this customs.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Love this idea and thinking about how it could inspire design. For years, I put off attending the block parties in my neighborhood. When you're isolated in a neighborhood, it's easy to focus on what's not working about it--what hasn't been fixed, the retail spaces in need of tenants. When you meet the people who actually live around you and see how they participate in the community, you focus more on the personalities location has brought together. In my case, I saw how unique and varied the people in my neighborhood were. It's felt much more like home ever since.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

An idea near and dear to my heart. We started Hey, Neighbor! for just this reason.

I highly recommend reading Peter's book "In the Neighborhood". And for more community building ideas, check out:
http://blog.heyneighbor.com/2011/07/how-to-build-community/

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

The photo you chose speaks volumes... The trend in home designs of glorifying the garage is evidence of our insulated/isolated lifestyle. The fact that the majority of Americans commute in solitary confinement, only to enter home via a closed car port, without walking and perhaps interacting with another human, has left us in a paradoxical state of being isolated while living in densely populated communities.

Spam
Photo of Braden Miskin

This is definitely an important part of any solution to revitalizing cities and I hope it doesn't get overlooked. Our cities are dead without the PEOPLE who live in it. Truly caring about a community, I think, starts with truly showing care for your neighbors and fellow citizens.

It's too bad so many newer neighborhoods are carelessly designed in ways that inhibit interaction with neighbors.

Conflicts that often arise between neighbors (noise, etc.) might be avoided if we get to know each other more and become more understanding of each other.

Neighborhoods that have a strong connection will be stronger in keeping their neighborhood alive. They might find they have similar desires for improvements and when those desires are discussed they are more likely to happen.