Neighbors for Neighbors

Do stuff with and for your neighbors

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

Views: 964

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

We've lived in the same house in JP for 11 years, and we do know our neighbors by name. My husband has plowed out their parking lot/driveway with his ATV after many a snowstorm, and they've helped dig out our cars on the street. We've gotten together in the past when the crime was really bad on the street. For the most part, though, our contact is limited to saying hi when we're leaving the house in the morning.

Like you, I yearn for something more. I would love to have monthly get togethers -- drinks, bbq, maybe all walk up to JP Licks together.

This article -- and your post -- have made me think that maybe it's time for me to start knocking on doors, too.

Interesting. It is the problem isn't it? I've lived in JP for a couple of years and in Union Square Somerville before that for about 8 years without knowing my neighbors in either place, other than saying hello on the street.

Right now, I'm reading Bill McKibben's Deep Economy which touches a bit on the decline of community and it's consequences, so this is certainly on my mind more and more.

It would be nice to see this site and discussion board used for smaller more impromptu folks meeting the the real world.
I read Deep Economy a couple weeks ago. It's a pretty good book.

Where abouts in JP do you live? Do you like chocolate chip cookies?


© 2023   Created by Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor).   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service