Even though this season is a really tough and disturbing time for all of us, we can certainly see so many opportunities for practicing neighbouring. This is something we have been passionate about at Neighbourhood Matters. Here are ten tips from us and what we have been trying to practice. What would you add?
1. Schedule zoom or virtual meetings with neighbours over dinner or drinks. “Virtual drinks” can humanise a meeting and make it a bit more social.
2. Start small and see where it leads. For example, we will talk to the cafe across the road about an “adopt a business” idea between the units in our building and the cafe.
3. Check in on neighbours through letterbox drops or phone calls, messenger and regularly ask how they are doing. Offer help.
4. Offer to go for walks with neighbours. We need to do this one on one now that we can only be in public places in pairs (except for family and households).
5. Being cautious about what we post on social media. We want to be realistic but also hopeful. We try to take into account people from all walks of life and what they might be experiencing during this time.
6. Smiling when we walk past people on the street. Social distancing can make us feel awkward but it’s important to make the effort to reach out and help people feel a sense of ease during these anxious times.
7. Engaging in small acts of kindness on the spot, e.g. giving someone a grocery item if they can’t find it and you have it.
8. Doing a prayer walk and asking God to show you how you might reach out in creative ways.
9. Finding out what local community organisations like neighbourhood centres or Meals on Wheels are doing and offering help or support, e.g. working the phones or organising any activities that are needed. What are some groups that already exist in your community that you can join?
10. Keep your primary emphasis local so that when this season is over you will have built strong connections and fostered a resilient neighbourhood for the future. It’s a great time to do this.