Community & Current Events

How to be a good neighbour

Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

How to be a good neighbour

Anonymity vs. close-knit neighbourhoods
Two abandoned cars can tell one compelling story about the power of community. In 1969, a team of Stanford University psychologists parked two derelict vehicles in the Bronx borough of New York and in Palo Alto, California during its gritty pre-Tech Boom days.

The New York team had barely finished setting up its monitoring video equipment, when the first vandals struck. Two days later the car was a husk, stripped of its valuables and vandalized beyond recognition. The Palo Alto car met a very different fate.

Not only did a passerby shut its hood when it rained, three different residents called the cops when the scientists attempted to remove the car at the end of the study.

Neighbourhood watch
The results became the stuff of Psych 101 legend: a sense of anonymity in the Bronx made easy crime even easier, while a tight-knit community in east Palo Alto worked as an informal neighbourhood watch.

Years later it continues to blow us away with a simple truth: knowing your neighbours makes for a safer, responsible community.

Keeping up neighbourly relations is not only a cheap alarm system, it fosters a give-and-take symbiosis between you and the people around you -- in other words: a community. Canadians have a well- established reputation as being friendly, courteous, and good neighbours. But today, nearly 80 per cent of Canadians now live in urban centres and we're not all on cosy terms.

Get to know your neighbours

Neighbours might share a wall or a fence, but for many that's about it. Personally, with our busy schedules, and many late nights at the office or in airports, we confess we struggle to know our neighbours.

But we're trying. After all, if you acquaint yourself with the people next door, you're more likely to respect each other's requests for quiet during a floor-stomping party or for patience during a massive reno. Who knows, you might even find yourself borrowing a cup of sugar (no, it doesn't just happen in some Pleasantville suburb).

Page 1 of 2 -- Find  easy and helpful tips to increase your sense of community on page 2
Get to know the Joneses
- First things first: try smiling or nodding hello to familiar faces around the neighbourhood.

- For the increasing numbers of us living in buildings, host meet-and-greets in a communal area.

- Join the ranks of your neighbourhood association and get to know the locals.

- Bring by a bottle of wine or drop off a welcome card to a newcomer.

- Walk your kids to school or the park, an easy place to mingle with other nearby families.

- If your neighbours are away, clear away conspicuous signs like left-out recycling or garbage bins to a less obvious space.

- Band together with the locals to hold a street party.

- Start a dog walking group to help take turns walking the pooch.

- After finishing mowing your lawn, try pushing the mower an extra minute and do the next house's lawn too.

- Coordinate a street garage sale and invite neighbours to contribute. The money earned can go toward a backyard barbecue or block party.


Excerpted from the book Living Me to We: The Guide for Socially Conscious Canadians © 2012 by Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger, published by Me to We. Reprinted with permission from the publisher. Illustration by TurnStyle Imaging.

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