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We're seeking neighborhood leaders to serve our shared mission of helping the community to connect

Neighborhood Conectors

One of the opportunities we all have to increase our day to day social connection is close to home in our own yards, streets in our neighborhood, or apartment lobbies. Wouldn’t it be great if more of us felt we could introduce ourselves to our neighbors? 

While we don’t have to be friends with our neighbors, at one level neighbors are a bit like family in that we can’t really choose them; so we might as well make our interactions with them friendly and positive. But on another level, the social connections we create with our neighbors can lead to fun neighborhood gatherings, a sense of safety and well being while in our neighborhood, group neighborhood projects, and more. 


The Social Connection Circle aims to make connection in our neighborhoods easier in three main ways: creating a support network for people who want to be more outgoing with their neighbors, normalizing conversation with neighbors, and helping to create a purpose for neighborhood engagement. Being a Neighborhood Connector can range from actions as simple as being someone who says hi or asking how people are doing when they walk by, to organizing neighborhood gatherings and events, working with neighbors to help organize ideas for neighborhood group projects, to taking part in our project of collecting dreams for the future of the city and neighborhoods.

Whatever level you choose to get involved, our resources described below and regular Neighborhood Connector meetings can help you along. 

Say Hi, Introduce yourself, Have a conversation

Connecting with neighbors starts with a simple hello.  Most people will respond to a hello. Many are just waiting for someone else to take initiative. Introducing yourself can be simple and doesn’t require and in-depth conversation. Say “hi, I’ve been meaning to introduce myself” or start with a simple comment about the day or their yard as you walk by before approaching them. 


Neighborhood Connector Challenge #1: try to say hi to or meet at least one neighbor a week. Say hi from your porch, while walking around the block, or in your apartment lobby. Invite or initiative conversation. Take two minutes to ask them how it’s going or how long they’ve lived in the neighborhood. 


Down the road, as you get to know your neighbors, or whenever it feels right, whether during a conversation or during a future get-together, consider offering your contact info. Let them know they can text or email you in case they need help with something. Maybe they forgot to lock their garage or house, aren’t home to receive a package or mail, or need something put in the garage before a storm. Having each other’s back on life’s simple issues or emergencies is a great way to help build neighborhood connection. Neighbors don’t have to be friends, but this support network of friendly neighbors can improve our lives and make it easier. It just takes the first step!

Create Together

As a Neighborhood Connector, you may be driven to improve your neighborhood or come up with unique and imaginative ideas. These improvements and ideas can become another source of connection. Creating positive change together is a way to take advantage of living in a neighborhood. 

Additionally, Neighborhood Connectors who attend one of our connector meetings will be invited to take part in our Prospecting for Dreams initiative, where we collect dreams for the future of the county by interviewing residents and implementing with others, such as local artists.

Neighborhood Connector Challenge #3: at one of your neighborhood gatherings, try inviting everyone to share something they’d like to see for the future of the neighborhood, like more mini libraries, community garden, a particular future event at a local library, a fundraiser, more bird houses, murals, sculptures, places for children to play, poetry share, window art, other art projects, etc.  Create a plan to do one of these things together. 

Neighborhood Connector Challenge #4: When you have a neighborhood get together, invite a neighbor to participate in the Social Connection Circle’s Prospecting for Dreams interview. Set up an hour to ask a neighbor our 15 questions. They can be done anonymously if desired. This process is not only a great way to get to know your neighbor on a deeper level but also build community wide dreams. Results and themes of these interviews will be featured in the Social Connection Circle newsletter and a source for neighborhood and city wide projects. 

More Ideas

To increase the chance of success for the gatherings and relationship building described above, consider one of the following activities as well:

  • Shared ideas google doc: Depending on mutual interest, you could record the shared ideas above into an online google doc so neighbors can work on them together. 

  • Shared skills and resources doc: Another use of shared google doc can be sharing neighborhood resources that people can borrow or skills people have to offer to each other. These can be another way to build connection and a sense of belonging.

  • Neighborhood watch: By itself, greater connection between neighbors is known to reduce crime as people are watching out for each other. But another group activity and a way to stay in contact is to create a formal neighborhood watch. Having a particular reason to meet together can help.  In fact, in Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s book Together, he talks about how a mayor of Annaheim California Tom Tait who made his city famous for its kindness initiatives, started out by organizing a get together for a neighborhood watch around safety by circulating a "Hi, Neighbor" letter. 

Special Neighborhood Celebration Days: 

Celebrate Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day  on March 30, Mr. Rogers Birthday 

Celebrate National Good Neighbor Day on September 26 Started in 1978.

In Conclusion

All of these neighborhood activities above can help create the feeling for all that the neighborhood is more than the sum of the houses, apartments, and individuals living in them -- that there is also a source and basis of connection between us. They can help people can let their guard down and be themselves when running into each other and more easily meet each other and say hi, which develops into a sense of trust.

Creating a connected neighborhood can not only lead to feeling safer, less lonely, and having a support network in an emergency, it can also lead to new opportunities and neighborhood projects not otherwise possible by utilizing the talents and ideas of people living in the community.  

It all starts by reaching out to neighbors living on either side of us and across the street and saying hi. Take a small step today in the direction of making your neighborhood feel like living in a part of a bigger family, not just a place you live in

Interested in becoming a Neighborhood Connector or learning more, or know someone suited?

Invite a Few Neighbors to a Get-Together

Another way to be a Neighborhood Connector is to organize a get-together with a few neighbors. There are many types of get-togethers: weekend morning coffee or tea, front or back yard lawn games, outdoor backyard campfire or cookout, outdoor or indoor cards or board games, dinner party, local restaurant or bowling alley get-together, living room social, etc. Do whatever feels right and works for you to start. 


Neighborhood Connector Challenge #2: organize a get together of any type. Start with 3 or 4 neighbors you have had good conversations with and branch out from there. Invite people in whatever way works, whether it’s  knocking on doors and furthering the conversation, calling, or sending texts or emails. 

If you want to create deeper or lasting connections between your neighbors at the event, be a proactive host and intentionally connect everyone at some point through a round of introductions. Invite people to go around and share something about themselves and their home and second round getting a little more personal like their favorite hobbies, a fun story, or their hidden skills. 


Depending on how long your event is, here are some other ideas to include to strengthen your first or next gathering and build toward more events and neighborhood cohesion: 


  • At some point during your get together, invite neighbors to share ideas for future neighborhood get-togethers. 

  • Invite neighbors to share phone numbers or emails for ease of future invites or to help each other out when someone isn’t home to get a package, forgets something in the front yard, etc.  This could lead into creating a formal neighborhood directory in the future if that is appealing to people. 


Down the road, you could organize bigger gatherings with more families, have a themed neighborhood wide block party, reserve the apartment's activities room, or fill up a restaurant together. When I was growing up in a small town in central Wisconsin, my parents hosted an annual candy-cutting party with the whole neighborhood around the holidays. It was always a source of neighborhood strength and a favorite of the children. 


As your event size grows, keep thinking of how to turn your gatherings into social connection gatherings: build in opportunities for people to connect on a deeper level, in whatever theme or context you come up with, instead of just hoping individuals take initiative. More ideas in this direction are also described below.


For more, check out the 8 door challenge from the Neighboring Movement. They recommend gatherings as short as an hour and have a helpful guide. Great Lakes Urban has created a Neighborhood Connector movement in Michigan and has a neighborhood project planner guide, for get togethers and other neighborhood planned activities.

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