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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Setting up a neighborhood network

So, I did it. I emailed all the families on our block to try to set up more of a social and security network for our neighborhood. With all that's been going on in Japan, coupled with reading David Wann's new book, The New Normal, and Eric Brende's, Better Off, I wanted to try to help create more community bonds.

Usually I keep my crack-pot enviro nuttiness to myself. However, at some point I need to break out of my shell and see if there are other like minded individuals in the hood who just may share the same interests. Hell, you don't know if you don't ask.

Anyway, I suggested setting up an initial get-together for social purposes, but also to find out other's interests and skill sets varying from vegetable gardening, composting, canning and home brewing to things like first aid and survival skills. I'd love if there were like minded folks interested in garden work parties, canning sessions and knitting circles or whatever gets people together to chat and realize that they can rely on others in a pinch or just to make it a close community of families.

I'm sure some of them are going to look at my email and think I'm the neighborhood nutjob, which may very likely be true, but I'm hoping there are a couple individuals who are up for learning new things like cheese making or canning or home brewing and the like. I'm a little nervous about putting myself out there and not getting any responses back so I'll keep you posted on how my stab at being Mr. Rogers is working out.

Have you attempted doing something similar or would you like to? If so, what kind of response did you get? Would you like to be my neighbor?

Photo courtesy of PhinneyWood.

33 comments:

Sandra G. said...

I've been meaning to do this for a while. Thanks for the reminder and the kick in the pants. I'm curious to see what kind of response you get.

-Heidi said...

It's great that you're reaching out to your neighbors. I'm a neighbor too (Port Angeles, WA)... just not close enough.

We have a great little community here - my husband and I live on a ranch with his dad now... and he rents out his large barn for a boarding business, 4-H-ers, etc... then he rents another house on the ranch to a really nice family. So I guess we have a nice little community close at hand.

But I agree, I should work harder to connect with other neighbors... I'm sort of a hermit.

Robj98168 said...

Yeah we got a gal with sustainable burien that is encouraging neihborhood preparedness, but like I keep telling her around my neighborhood that means a MILITIA! It'd really too bad... my neighbors and I don't really know each other at all. My old neighborhood was much different. We all watched out for each other.

That all being said, crunchy, do you think your neighborhood could handle both you and me??

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

Our neighbours here are great - but we only really know people (other than our immediate neighbours) because of having our dog. Walking her local nearly every day is a great way to meet people and get talking - sometimes small talk leads into discussion of (simple living) hobbies, introducing them to our chickens, sharing eggs & receiving their excess produce in return etc. It's all very informal at the moment - just talking and a bit of swapping but it's a start.

Anna @ Blue Dirt said...

We had a sap boiling party one year and quite a few neighbors dropped by to see what it was like. Another neighbor helps with a big chicken butchering at their parents. You can find the unexpected 2 doors down!

Julia (Color Me Green) said...

how did you happen to have all their email addresses in the first place? i think that is a major first stumbling block for a lot of people...

Polka said...

Wish you luck :)
I have never tried anything like that. I keep my interests to myself, but maybe someday :)

Maria said...

I would love to be your neighbor. My neighborhood only has 5 houses. One of which has a small greenhouse and garden. From talking with my neighbors I don't think any of them are into any of the things you mentioned. That being said, I do host a knit night at my house on Thursdays. We've been knitting scarves for the homeless and are about to switch to hats for chemo patients. I guess I could invite them. :)

Danica said...

I think that is great! I am planning on moving to a new neighborhood this summer, and I'd love to do something similar, but I don't know if I have the cojones to do it.

Cathy said...

Having kids sure does help to get to know the neighbors, and I have been thinking about some type of block party for quite a while. I know a lot of neighbors to chat with them, but don't know them on any deeper level. I think that it is great that you are doing this.

Brad K. said...

I must have missed something about Mr. Rogers. I always considered Mr. Rogers to be ministering to the little one, the personal - the individual. I never found much community feeling with him.

I think I would have printed off flyers, and gone door to door to personally hand out the information and invite. Printed paper, and the personal contact, are more persistent than most emails. That, and electronic communications, emails not as much as texting, tend to be manipulative and distancing to relationships.

Luck!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Wow, Brad. Aren't you Mr. Cheery Pants this morning.

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

I have a great neighborhood community. Luckily we all get along pretty good. One neighbor has an amazing garden and some good idea's on food storage and what not. One neighbor dabbles in gardening but get's a lot of outside recreation idea's. One neighbor I just like because she is like me. Yeah! 3 of my neighbors are all elderly and have great old school idea's. I live in a cult-a-sack so we see each other on a daily basis.

lazyhomsteader.com said...

Way to go! I've really been wanting to do this and was close to actually going for it when we had someone buy the house across the street that had previously had a slew of bad renters. Unfortunately, they ended up forclosing. :( But I have talked to three neighbors about gardening (and converted one!). Hope to do this in the near future though. Can't wait to hear more about how it goes.

p.s. I'm already resigned to being our neighborhood nutjob. ;)

novemberjuliet said...

nobody in our neighborhood is going to think you're a nut.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I would love to be your neighbor!

We live-in a neighborhood now that is pretty good now. I wouldn't be calling on the vast majority of my neighbors to come over and can some applesauce but I'm certain I could rely on almost all of them in an emergency. The people across the street and right next door are wonderful so I feel like it offsets the requisite weirdo that every neighborhood seems to have.

brad said...

would love to be your neighbor.

i'm still looking for an online system that would be good to help manage this, like a mini freecycle that's just for your designated area. i assume with some kind of setup like this people could even keep their email private and get notified just like on FB.

we have about 150 houses in a 3 street area and neighbors are always saying, "oh i wish i knew you needed that, i just got rid of one."

if anyone has seen an online system that would be good for this please let me know.

Simpler Times Homestead said...

Great idea Deanna. Good luck

deb said...

I would love to be your neighbor too. I would love to start this in my own neighborhood, I know far too few of my neighbors and I've been in the place a long time.

I've been pondering this stuff just recently. Thanks for the extra nudge.

tansy said...

i would love to do this but i'm afraid my neighbors already thing i'm a nutjob and won't give us the time of day....we live on a 4 acre farm right next to a subdivision. our lifestyle is a lot different than theirs and any contact i've tried to make with them has received a frigid response. i'm fearful that when tshtf, they'll change their tunes and try to steal away all our animals and food.

i wish i could build a barricade around our land to protect us!

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

MUY FANTASTICO! I had an idea about trying to get a community garden project going here in our town but never did follow through. I have made a few contacts and have a lot more energy so with this new inspiration from you, I am going to explore some possibilities. Thanks and buenos suerte, amiga!

Deanna said...

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only seemingly normal person who actually thinks of stuff like this. Maybe it's the name. We live in the country with most in our area on 5-40 acres. Our next door neighbor is a surveyor and several years ago he gave us a map of our area with everyone's property lines, who owns each place and their phone numbers. It could use some updating and yes, I've talked about doing just what you've done.

Anonymous said...

omg i am so uber jealous of you right now, actually jealous of your neighbors. i would LOVE it if u were my neighbor. last summer, i tried to make friends with a family down the way who's garden i drive by all the time, so we could share gardening tips and i even suggested a gardening group among neighbors so we could share bounty tips etc, and i got the SEATTLE FREEZE. i got TOTALLY BLOWN OFF. i got a half assed apology, and never heard from them again. LOVE THAT SEATTLE FREEZE!!!! One time my car broke down and i needed a jump, I asked the lady across the street and she said, my son could help you, but i don't want to bother him right now. ooooooooooooo LOVIN THAT SEATTLE FREEEEEEEEEEEZE.

-Heidi said...

Wow, Brad really rates; you answered him! Julia asked a very good question... I've noticed you don't really answer your comments, but I think it would be nice if you didn't just ignore some questions. I'm not trying to be rude; just thought you might want to know how it comes across. :)

Crunchy Chicken said...

Rob - I don't think I could handle you and your seed ballz.

Anna - I think my neighbors would have a coronary if there were any chicken dispatchings going on.

Julia - We have a list compiled from our Seattle Night Out annual event (in August). My old neighborhood had an even better list than just names and contacts numbers - it had a list of who had what emergency supplies (ranging from tents to CPR skills) and where everybody's water main shutoff valves were.

SaTOP - "cult-a-sack" I love it!

Lazyhomesteader et al - So far I've had four families respond very enthusiastically!

Anonymous - Yeah, people who live in Seattle certainly will tell you they're friendly, but half the time they'd rather run you over.

Heidi - I try to respond to comments when I can. Oftentimes I see a response and am at work or am getting the kids ready for school and can't respond and then forget.

-Heidi said...

Thanks for responding :)

Nic, SD said...

I would never be the one to initiate. Even if it was something that I found myself wanting to do, I'd know I really couldn't, because you get big groups of people together and my brain goes, "OMG! SOCIAL OBLIGATION!!!" and just switches off, and I go running for a corner or a hole to hide in. Given that, I don't think I'm community oriented enough to ever play a big part in something like that.
All of that said, as long as there wasn't a lot of pressure, I would probably be loosely involved in a community group. (Guess it's a good thing all people aren't like me or these things wouldn't exist... at all.)

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

Awesome idea. I applaud your efforts. For reals. After living in our rented home over 6 months, we know our neighbors on one side very well, and don't know the other side at all, even though I left them a Christmas offering with our names (and address in parentheses, since I'm sure they don't know our names). Not so much as a wave since then. I wave at a lot of neighbors as I'm walking around the neighborhood with my kids, but I don't really KNOW them.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Nic - I hear you. I'm actually quite the social curmudgeon.

So far I've heard back from 7 interested families. I just sent an email with a survey to schedule a good date/time for our first meet-up so I'll let y'all know how it goes!

Wendy said...

I think it's kind of neat that you have your neighbors' email addresses ....

Christina Gilman said...

Several years back, I read Surperbia! and this networking is one of their first steps toward improving suburbia. If you haven't read the book, do check it out.

We've got a mailing list for our neighborhood so we can alert each other to suspicious goings-on and ask for cat boarding recommendations. I'd love for it to go further than that (neighborhood list of sharable skills/tools, more regular community building events, etc) but I'm not in a position to take on all the organizing that would go with those. Maybe if I narrowed down the ideas to something small and manageable...

Amber said...

I think it's great that you did that!

I will admit, I'm not sure I have the guts. But I would totally love it if one of my neighbours sent me an email like that. :)

Lindsey G. said...

I LOVE it!!! I just started a neighborhood group in our area and am planning a BBQ next month. It makes me feel a lot better knowing who lives around me and having more of a sense of community. I love to get gardening tips from my neighbors, and share toys the kids outgrow! I think a neighborhood network is very important and I applaude you for coordinating it. I had to take the initiative here and it was well worth it!

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