I believe we have a problem. A lot of the people I know or meet have substituted online community for neighborhood community.
- We chat to our ‘friends’ on Facebook but we don’t know the people next door.
- We read Tweets from someone we’ve never met, but can’t remember the last time we chatted to the family across the street.
- We frantically clear our inbox but fail to sit on our porch so we have can have serendipitous chats with people walking by
Knowing and relying on your physical neighbors is essential to a healthy and happy life.
I speak from first-hand experience because for the first time in my life, I’ve made a huge effort to really get to know our neighbors and it’s been amazing. In fact, in 40 minutes I’m meeting a group of guys in the neighborhood and we’re all walking to a breakfast cafe to catch up. We do this every other Wednesday.
The reason why I’m investing my time in getting to know our neighbors is because we don’t plan on moving. We want to stay in our current house for the rest of our lives. I think this is key to building a real, quality local community. You’ve got to plan on staying around for the long haul.
This is the reason why less and less people are investing in their neighborhoods. They’ll have to move because of their job or they want to move to a bigger or better house. Why invest all the time and effort in getting to know your neighbors if you going to move in the next few years?
One of the reasons we moved to Portland Oregon was so we could have a walkable lifestyle. We chose a neighborhood that was flat and had a doctor, veterinarian, grocer, gym, dentist, restaurant, coffee shop and pub all within a 10-15 minute walk.
This walkable lifestyle has made it much easier start building a local community. That’s why it’s so important to support local businesses - if you’re always jumping in your car to pick up milk and bread, how will local businesses survive?
We’ve all got to choose our local communities and invest in building them. When we die, we won’t wish we had a few more friends on Facebook, but we all will wish we shared a few more laughs with our neighbors over a beer or coffee.
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