The New York Times posted "Won't You be My Neighbor?" online (and I'm assuming in print) by Peter Lovenheim today, link below. The article describes a middle-aged man's quest to get to know his neighbors following the almost unnoticed loss of a family from his neighborhood. To do so, Lovenheim asks his neighbors if he can spend a night with them. About half of his neighbors agree, and ultimately, the community is better for it.
This article begs the question, how many of us know our neighbors? I would guess a good majority of us have no idea what goes on in our neighbors' lives or even their names for that matter. I'm as guilty as anyone of that. I say hello to my neighbors when we pass on the street, but for the most part I don't really know them. If I needed to borrow a cup of sugar, there's only a couple people on my block whom I would consider asking.
So what keeps us from getting to know our neighbors? My usual excuses are that I'm busy/tired/cranky, the weather's not "visiting weather" or that it's a bit awkward to introduce myself so late in the game. Besides, this is Boston. No one smiles at strangers here, right?
Lovenheim's tactics may be extreme, but his motives aren't. Perhaps it's time for me to revisit my Southern roots and begin "calling" on my neighbors. When one calls on a neighbor, one usually spends the afternoon at a neighbor's home talking about family and friends, sipping on tea or lemonade and munching on cookies, and gossiping about what so-and-so did last weekend and oh-my-goodness, did you hear what the Jones' boy did to his car? Granted, not all Southern traditions translate well up North, but I would love to call on my neighbors. I make a mean chocolate chip cookie and am willing to bring you a plate if you're willing to have me over for an hour or two.
If all else fails, I have a sleeping bag and I can travel.
Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/opinion/23lovenheim.html?em&e...