5 Ways To Make A Community Out Of Your Neighbourhood
In the process of galvanizing people to change you might just become friends.
Communities and neighbourhoods are complicated beings that have a life of their own. While they are largely shaped by industry, the economy, and by global events, there is no denying the fact that individual people themselves have a role to play and have a shared responsibility towards the community that they live in.
Every neighbourhood has its own distinct set of issues which might be different from the rest of the world or even from those of the very next street.
To bring about change in a community, you need people to collaborate and work together. In the process of galvanizing people towards achieving common goals, you not only get to know your neighbours but also create a community and foster a sense of belonging, something that is despereately required in our extremely cosmopolitan, diverse, and dynamic world.
The root cause of most hate crimes and incidents of violence can be traced back to societal ostracization and loneliness which is an epidemic in developing and developed countries. It is no surprise that the most cosmopolitan and globalized cities in the world also house the loneliest and most violent people. In terms of violence, the US is no different from the rest of the world in that the only difference being that the psychopaths residing there have an easy access to guns.
“Every other country has borderline, anti-social miscreants. Every other country has unhinged, misanthropic men lurking on the periphery. What makes them different from the US is every other country has sensible gun restrictions.”
It wasn’t for nothing that our grandparents and parents always asked us to be friendly with people and get to know our neighbours. The ground reality however, is that most of us don’t. Or rather, we are not interested in knowing them for fear of stoking unwanted arguments and being politically incorrect.
We’ve basically given up communal harmony in exchange for pledging alliance to our favourite politician.
That’s the reason the world in general and America in particular is such a violent place to live in. However, there are certain things we can do to reduce social ostracization and loneliness within our communities.
And the best way to do that is by starting small. And by that I mean, the neighbourhoods and streets we live in.
Here are 5 ways you can get to know your neighbourhood and make a community out of total strangers:
Community composting initiatives
Composting is a great way to not only rid your neighbourhood of black spots, but to also help the municipality in managing waste sustainably. It is the process of collecting all bio-degradable organic refuse into a single (or 3) bin(s) so that it can be composted and turned into fresh usable medium that can be used to grow organic produce. This black gold can then be sold back to farmers to be used as fertilizer in their fields for a nominal fee or used within residential neighbourhoods itself to invigorate local gardens, community parks, urban farms, and lakeside plantations.
Duties and responsibilities can be awarded to residents based on their skills, their availability, their knowledge, and how much they’re willing to invest in the idea. For example, collection of daily household waste can be given to municipal workers who are more equipped (and have the time) to deal with such tasks, while collection and distribution of the finally composted product can be assigned to prominent community figures who have the requisite distribution networks to spread the product across towns and villages, such as farmers, city gardeners, and horticultural department heads.
However, utmost care must be taken to ensure that correct composting practices and stringent standards of hygiene and safety are followed. Else, all your efforts might go straight down the drain, like it did in this city.
Day care services can be provided at subsidized rates to residents of a particular neighbourhood or to those who live on one particular street. In this way, no one is forced to travel longer distances and seek such services outside, and a greater sense of belongingness to the neighbourhood is fostered among its residents.
This makes people feel more connected to the area they’re living in, instead of just living passively without any care or concern for the local environment and surrounding human community.
Community pet care
Akin to community daycare, community pet care is another way of bringing people together and fostering a sense of belongingness to the neighbourhood. Pet lovers with common interests can meet up, go on walks, have discussions, and can collaborate together to present their demands to ward representatives on what they can do to make their area more pet friendly and how to make other residents more accepting of companion animals.
Likewise, people who have issues with pet owners can utilize the very same platform to air their grievances and work together with the community in getting their misunderstandings resolved.
Doggy day care and pet boarding services can be provided by neighbours who have experience and a passion for doing the same for a subsidized rate to people living on the same street or neighbourhood. Likewise, reciprocal services can be provided to those who require day care or senior citizen care in exchange.
Collective contribution to community work
In addition to keeping trash out of our landfills and segregating waste at source, we can also contribute to public and civic infrastructure by letting the government know the pain points it needs to address. Doing this will not only rally up the people of a particular neighbourhood to achieve common goals, but also foster a sense of belonging amongst the outsiders or non-natives of the area to the neighbourhood.
Conducting neighbourhood clean-up drives, tree plantation events, wall painting, blood donation camps, lake restoration drives, and constructing shelters for the homeless are all examples of community events which can bring people together.
Of course, this doesn’t just bring people closer to each other but also reduces hate towards whom they perceive as “outsiders” to a great extent.
Organize an open street day
This is a concept that has been trialed and successfully executed in many cities around the world.
Open streets can be used as a platform to galvanize a large number of people from one particular neighbourhood to conduct CSR activities and social initiatives like lake cleanups, tree plantation drives, and blood donation camps. When these two fuse together, you have a platform that seeds the social capital for transformative change on a societal level. This not only brings people together for a common cause, but helps initiate the cosmopolitan crowd into the local culture and helps foster a sense of belongingness to the city they now call home.
Because only when one is ready to wholeheartedly provide, can one be open to receiving.
Learning the culture and language of a city, interacting with its locals, and meeting its representatives lets you feel its pulse and gives you an insight into what exactly makes it shake and move. Learning the local language makes you much more knowledgeable and equipped to oragnize all the above-mentioned events on a much larger scale.
There are a myriad number of ways in which you can organize your neighbourhood and bring its residents together. When people feel connected to a common mission that is also in line with their own idea of a liveable city, they will naturally feel propelled to action investing their full wholesome selves into the job.
You don’t want a sleeping citizenry who are just working to pay the bills and living their own egocentric lives within the confines of friends and family. That’s how in-group biases are formed!
You want a citizenry who are actively involved at every level of governance, demanding accountability and responsibility from their elected representatives while making their own contributions to the city as much their own personal committments allow them to. We require community participation from each and every ablebodied member. Not just from teachers nurses and doctors who are busy lifting all the emotional weight of a disconnected citizenry who are just working to enrich themselves.
Whether it is organizing community composting, plogging events, lake clean up drives, or blood donation camps, there’s really no limit in the number of ways in which you can make your neighbours meet and see eye to eye with each other at least on a couple of things.
It is a well known fact that a tightly knit community comes together to support each other in times of hardship. Once everyone on your street knows everyone else on a first name basis, almost all your civic issues become easier to solve. And the more distance there is between people in the community, all these issues only get compounded and complicated with time, and ultimately impossible to solve.
“Know thy neighbor as thyself. That is, comprehend his hardships and understand his position, deal with his faults as gently as with your own. Do not judge him where you do not judge yourself…this is the meaning of the word LOVE.”
— Pearl S Buck