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By Amanda Grindele When moving into a new home, one of the most important factors people look at after price and size is the quality of the neighborhood. I once had a new neighbor tell me that the deciding factor when she chose her new home was that every time she came by to look at it there were kids playing outside all up and down the street. Small things like a wave and a smile on a morning walk or feeling comfortable asking to borrow a half-cup of sugar from your neighbor in a crunch can take a neighborhood from just feeling like a group of houses to feeling like a community of friends. Here are six tips and ideas we’ve come up with to strengthen your community! 1)     The most obvious way to bring people together is to have community events. Block parties provide a fun environment where food is shared, kids can play and everyone is having a good time! Other ideas include holiday parties, mothers’ night outs, poker nights or anything else that will get people out of their homes and interacting with one another. People will be building relationships that have a positive impact on the community without even realizing it. 2)     Utilize neighborhood associations to adopt a community philanthropy or tackle a project. When people have a common goal to work towards it naturally unites them. This gives your neighborhood a “team” aspect while also providing the opportunity for members to give back.  3)    Take your neighborhood watch program one step further and create a “neighborhood help program.” Make it a place where people can go to share keys in case of an emergency, report a lost or found pet, or just to borrow tools. Having a declared program for these types of things will make people more likely to do them and helps to build trust between neighbors.  4)     More and more, it is becoming essential for communities to have an interactive online presence. Have a website with basic neighborhood information, a digital newsletter, pictures of events, etc. and maybe even link this to a Facebook and a Twitter page. This is also a great place to organize contests, group bike rides or that neighborhood help program we mentioned earlier! 5)     Simply encourage members of your community to spend more time in the front yard.  So often we lock ourselves inside on beautiful days where a little picnic or some yard work might be just what the doctor ordered. If everyone just spent a little time out front on the weekends, the amount of interaction would increase and there would be sense of camaraderie felt in the neighborhood by being at home rather than at work or school. 6)     Finally, and this is our favorite, host a pie social, or any type of dinner or dessert party! When people join together to share food and conversation, relationships are built and significant topics can be discussed. The pie can be a symbol of unity and wholesomeness, but if it’s frozen yogurt you prefer, that works too. Have a weekly dinner party hosted by someone new each week. This gives neighbors a chance to invite one another into their homes and really get to know one another! We hope we’ve helped. May your every Mrs. Cleaver type desire for the ideal suburbia come true! Have a question, comment or a story to share? Email!
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