Check out what Andrew Hoffman, Executive Director of NeighborLink Fort Wayne has to say about being a better neighbor in a bigger way.
Conflict, disagreement, and misunderstanding among neighbors is something we all face, whatever the living situation. The call to be a better neighbor in a bigger way is always present. Every neighborhood, regardless of socio-economics, geography, or the housing type has their own set of issues that relate to the level that neighbors are willing to embrace the diversity within it and take ownership for it. The places we call home and those we do life with are the things we protect most in life. We invest more resources into these places than anywhere else and we desire to protect it with all we have. It’s no wonder that being a good neighbor can be such a difficult thing to practice when it seems no one else wants his or her neighborhood to improve with you.
The good news is that more people want things to be better than you might believe. But like you, they don’t know how to get started or know what to do. In all my years of doing neighborhood development at NeighborLink, I’ve not met many neighbors who don’t have a long list of ideas that would make their neighborhood a better place. We’re hard wired as humans with the ability to hope for a better tomorrow. We’re full of ideas, compassion for others, and the ability to do something about it. What we’re not full of is the courage to be one to lead with our actions. We’re afraid no one will care, we’ll do the wrong thing, or no one will join us.
Neighborhood development begins with personal development. Anything good we see in our neighborhoods started with someone that took the initiative to work on fixing what they felt was broken with the hopes that it would inspire others to join them in the journey. If you’re willing to acknowledge that neighborhood development begins with you, the beginning of neighborhood development is rather simple at the core. Start with finding courage to respond to those inner dialogues you’re having with yourself. For instance, go door-to-door meeting the neighbors you’ve not met and or forgot the names of. Pick up the trash you see or mow the grass of the vacant home two doors down. Have a backyard BBQ or have your kids invite the neighbor kids over to play. I can guarantee you will find other neighbors that will welcome the spirit and chat about how you all wish you did this more. Culture changes one relationship at a time.
As the director of NeighborLInk Fort Wayne, a local nonprofit organization that uses web-based technology to post the tangible needs of vulnerable homeowners so the neighbors looking for opportunities to help can find them, I want to encourage you to embrace this lifestyle because there are people in your neighborhood that need you. There are thousands of homeowners in our community that have stories that explain why their house may not look as good as it did a few years ago or why you never see them. We encourage you to consider that there is always a story behind what we believe is broken or behind the lives of the neighbors we’re most frustrated with. Until we get to know the story, we can’t full understand what the right solution may be. Take the initiative to be the better neighbor by getting to know your neighbors If you want to improve your neighborhood.
Please visit www.nlfw.org to learn more about our organization and find ways you can discover neighbors near you seeking assistance. Who knows, you may have someone in your neighborhood who needs what you’re able to provide.