28 February 2007

Living Good in the Neighborhood

Maybe it's the Lenten reminders to reexamine our lives, or maybe it's New Year's resolutions being made very late, but I'm making an intentional effort to get more involved in our neighborhood. Last week I got my hair cut at Odanga, a new salon that just opened on Woodstock Ave. That means I can walk to get my hair cut and I can chat it up with women who live in the 'hood. I went to a new home community (house church) from Imago Dei that meets a few blocks from our house so I can meet other Christ-followers who live near me (even if they all look like they're 21). I started taking yoga classes at Woodstock Wellness, a new holistic health center that I can walk to. That should count as a double workout, right?

We moved to this neighborhood because it was the kind of neighborhood where we really could walk to meet our daily needs. It's still backwards and old-fashioned enough to be affordable---at least, affordable by Portland standards. But I realized that we've lived here 2 1/2 years and I have not maximized my use of the neighborhood assets, nor have I really taken time to get to know my neighbors.

It's been sort of hard to get to know neighbors here. There was no "welcome wagon" of people coming by to meet us when we moved in. We don't really seem to have anything in common with our two closest neighbors so there hasn't been a lot of motivation to get to know them better. Does anyone have good ideas for how to get to know your neighbors without it seeming forced or annoying? One of my ideas is to start attending neighborhood association meetings.

This is my resolution: to live creatively in my neighborhood.

P.S. Updated links on the left to a few of my favorite places in the virtual neighborhood.


Kris said...

This may seem cheesy and forced, but I would probably bake a bunch of cookies and take plates to all my neighbors. You could just randomly do it to be nice or you could wait for a holiday and make holiday specific goodies to pass out. You can at least learn your neighbors names that way and maybe chat a bit. It's a good way to start opening the doors to future conversation.

Anonymous said...

...and I seem to remember that Kris loves to bake good Chocolate Chip Cookies!
I also have only a few "speaking" neighbors, and some "waving" neighbors. Others are just there..., but not the closest to my house either. I do have some wonderful "next door" neighbors, but don't see them in the winter much, even to wave!

Sarah said...

I do agree that there's nothing like a little "reason" to see neighbors that helps get things off on a good note. Just thinking of upcoming things, even little May Baskets would be cute, cookies are always welcome along with any other baked goods. I do agree that it is much easier to be with neighbors naturally once the warm weather comes.

Cottonista said...

I have dreamt up all sorts of nice things to do for my neighbors, but have never gotten up the nerve to do much. This past Christmas, only 1 neighbor was home when I delivered cookie plates. (Actually, his grown son who was just visiting answered the door.) I never heard back from the others...and Mr. Daniel called to thank me for the kindness, and said he had just had, uh, bypass surgery the previous week. Whoops. But kindnesses to neighbors are always good, and I am glad for the few times I summoned the guts to be friendly--even though I had to force it--I'm sure it wasn't perceived as forced or annoying. Especially if you show up with a pie in hand! You'll find those little kindnesses will start to be reciprocated in one way or another, whether it be ladeling you out a bowl of beer-laced gumbo or plowing up a garden plot for you. Have fun! Joyce

Deb said...

I like the idea of doing some sort of Easter or May basket. Let's see if I can get up the guts to do so.

Also, Cottonista, it was fun to see your blog, old friend!

Kris said...

I've done the cookie or Christmas treat thing before. But nothing was better for creating conversation with neighbors than when we would walk Cole. Has this been your experience with your dogs? People loved to talk about him... way more than when I'd be out with the kids!!