How Do I Get to Know My Neighbors Without Seeming Creepy? | Seven Days Vermont

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How Do I Get to Know My Neighbors Without Seeming Creepy? 

Published July 10, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.

click to enlarge © MARIA MURRIETA | DREAMSTIME
  • © Maria Murrieta | Dreamstime

Dear Reverend,

I moved into my current house eight years ago. I love my neighborhood, but I don't know a single one of my neighbors. We wave at each other in passing, or if I'm out in the yard and people walk by, we say hello, but that's about it. I don't need to be friends with all of them, but I'd at least like to know their names and have more of a sense of community. How can I make that happen without seeming creepy? Am I just being old-fashioned in thinking you should know your neighbors?

Mrs. Rogers(woman, 53)

Dear Mrs. Rogers,

I grew up in the '70s and '80s in a fairly suburban Vermont neighborhood. All the kids went to school together and hung out with each other. All the parents went to church together and had dinner parties at each others' houses. I may be recalling things through slightly rosy memory banks, but it's a fact that everybody knew each other.

A few decades later, things have certainly changed. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 57 percent of Americans say they only know some or none of their neighbors. Only 26 percent say they know most of them. On the flip side, about a quarter of adults under age 30 say they don't know any of their neighbors. It seems that the younger you are, the less likely you are to know the people who live near you.

Whether this is due to screens or shyness, it really is a shame. From better security to a higher sense of general well-being, there are many benefits to knowing your neighbors. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to rectify the situation that aren't creepy at all. You can join neighborhood forums and Facebook groups, but if you really want to meet people, nothing beats real-life face time.

Watch for opportunities to be neighborly. If you see someone struggling with their groceries, taking out their trash cans or raking their yard, offer to give them a hand. The next time a neighbor is walking by, make a point to introduce yourself and engage in a short conversation. Go out for a stroll and say hello to people you see in their yards. Again, be sure to introduce yourself and tell them where you live.

If you want to kick it up a notch, host a block party or neighborhood mixer. That sort of thing takes work, but it can really be worth the effort.

Whatever you choose to do, don't be shy. Remember that a stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet.

Good luck and God bless,

The Reverend

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The Reverend

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What's your problem? Need some irreverent counsel on life's conundrums? You can always just "Ask the Rev."

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