Friday, May 10, 2013

Building a Community

Growing up, I knew nearly every single one of my neighbors. The family with three girls, a few houses down, who my sisters and I played with daily + The neighbors up the hill that everyone knew to avoid at Halloween because they handed out toothbrushes instead of candy + The older woman next door with no kids, who kept mostly to herself, so all of the kids in the neighborhood swore she was a witch + The friendly older woman across the street, who was like a grandma to all of the neighborhood kids + The one family on the street that let their kids run wild and seemed to never be home to supervise.  My point is, we all remember that one neighborhood growing up where everybody knew each other. 

For me, it was a cozy neighborhood in Charlotte with an elementary school nearby and an abundance of families with kids my age. I want this same type of neighborhood for my daughters. The thing is, how do you connect with your neighbors if all they do is commute to and from work, spending free time behind their tall backyard fences or closed up inside their homes. When did our neighborhoods become more of individuals and their separate houses and less of a community?

Ironically, I was hiding out in my own home just waiting for these neighbors that I have never met to spontaneously start a community when I read this article. It talks about the community that just one family created by simply playing and hanging out in the 'front yard' of an apartment complex. It's so simple. 

Looking back, my parents spent endless summer nights hanging out on our front porch. Neighbors taking their nightly walk would occasionally stop by while neighborhood kids ran around to the backyard to play in our treehouse. 

It's up to us to create our own community. So, my goal for the summer is to spend as much time as possible in our front yard getting to know our neighbors. I'd love to be the people in the neighborhood that everyone has a connection to and everyone knows our name. 

Go outside!  Spend the rest of the weekend in your front yard and create a community!


  1. Could not agree more. So much has moved to the back yard land of the privacy fence, it's almost blinding to that which is right in front of us--our front yards.
    When we lived in Houston, we actually put M&M into an international day school just so that they could be around other children, and I went to work solely to pay for their exposure.
    We're often teased for almost exclusively buying 1940s bungalow homes with the inevitable one bathroom, but more importantly, with the the big front porch--the shaded "room" for the hot Southern nights--yet because of that choosing we have always found kindred spirits with whom to while away the evening hours, watching our children playing hide-n-go-seek. Thanks for a lovely reminder of why we live in homes under constant repair :)

  2. Oh, how I miss our big front porch! But, hanging out in the front yard is doable anywhere. Great idea and so important to know your neighbors.

  3. I absolutely agree. When I was growing up we spent so much time outside just wandering around and hanging out with any structured play date or real intent on what we were playing. And from that, I met all of my neighbors and knew everyone on our street. These days everyone is so rushed and it's rare to find a group of kids just hanging out outside playing these days.

  4. I feel like my grandfather when I start a sentence with 'When I was little…" or "Back in my day…" , but the more people I speak with the more I come to the conclusion that it really was different when we were little. Kids would go outside for hours and create their own adventures + neighbors knew each other and kept an eye on neighborhood kids.

    Unfortunately, EVERY SINGLE backyard in our new neighborhood has a 6ft tall privacy fence - not exactly a friendly neighbor feel.. I am determined to get to know my neighbors whether they like it or not :), so I see lots of front porch sittin' in my future


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