Neighbourhoods, like anything good and valuable, require thoughtful care in order for it to thrive. The same is very much true of parenting, business, friendships, and even gardens. If we want to live in healthy places and enjoy our community, we often need to take steps to make our neighbourhoods better places.
Authors Peter Block and John McKnight, in their book, “The Abundant Community,” write about some of the most essential necessities that make neighbourhoods thriving and healthy places to live and raise our families together.
Firstly, they say that active neighbours who know and look out for each other produces safety and security in a community. While policing and security systems are good, studies show that a strong sense of neighbourliness does in fact reduce crime. Secondly, our health and wellbeing is driven by our connections to one another. Isolation leads to physical and mental health challenges, while community leads to much better health outcomes.
Thirdly, Block and McKnight say that children are better off when they are surrounded by adults who model healthy relationships and decisions. Neighbours can shape the way kids see each other and interact with one another. If we do in fact want to tackle bullying, it may start when children begin to see adults treat each other with civility and care. The fourth neighbourhood necessity is paying attention for the land. Communities thrive when they care for their place by preserving the environment, planting gardens and trees, and ensuring that garbage and litter is removed.
Fifth, neighbourhoods thrive when there is a budding economy. When your street is a place where people exchange goods and services, the whole community becomes a better place. Even the smallest enterprise can create business opportunities for others. Sixth, and in a similar way, neighbourhoods that grow and share food become more resilient. While we enjoy good grocery stores and abundant resources, food that is grown and eaten locally become better connected to each other and their place.
Lastly, neighbourhoods are places where care is present. When neighbours are concerned for the wellbeing of each other, everyone wins. Care is about listening to each other, hearing stories, and having empathy. Care is about sharing life together in different ways and finding connections.
When our neighbourhoods become places of connection, care and safety then kids, families, and businesses grow. At the heart of the very best communities is a group of people who want to make better neighbourhoods together. May this be your story as you take a few more steps to know your neighbours this year.