6 keys of connection: turning your neighbourhood into a community
From an article by the Good Men Project
What does it take to transform a neighbourhood of individuals into a village, a connected community? When a neighbourhood becomes a community, it has incredible power. Every place we live in is packed with human currency, just waiting to be tapped — from skills and knowledge to time and enthusiasm.
Our neighbours are a wellspring of abilities, knowledge, passions, and experiences. We may be unaware of the informal clubs and groups doing good work, or the important contributions that local institutions are making. We may overlook the physical, built, and cultural treasures around us, but it’s all there, waiting to be connected. All of these aspects of the community form an incredible resource — social capital that can be invested to renew our health, security, care, local economy, ecology, and food sovereignty — and build a better life together.
Each time we go out of our way to encourage, support, share, and enjoy a neighbour, we are putting the world to rights on our own street and building connection. Six neighbourly principles can transform the invisible neighbourhood into a visible, vivid, and vibrant one:
Discover one another and what surrounds you. Discover local residents who connect naturally and weave together their community through neighbour-to-neighbour and associational relationship building. Convene tables of connectors whose membership overlaps and represents the diversity of an entire neighbourhood.
Welcome one another and the stranger. Actively welcome neighbours - and those who are pushed to the margins - through one-on-one learning conversations and listening campaigns. These bring what people care about to the surface. Start with what is strong; not what’s wrong in your neighbourhood.
Portray one another and your neighbourhood in terms of gifts. As you discover what you all care about enough to take collective action, creating dynamic portraits of the local assets you can use is a helpful way of making community building blocks visible to everyone. Creating a shared portrait of your neighbourhood assets - such as individual talents, an association, a park or a thriving garden - is a powerful way of enabling your neighbours to discover what community building ingredients they all already have. Then you can all figure out how best to connect these unconnected resources in ways that create new possibilities and resolve old problems.
Share what you have to secure what your neighbourhood wants. Intentionally doing things together, from breaking bread to tending a neighbourhood garden, brings us into a radical presence with our neighbours. Sometimes it is necessary to create “shareable moments.” These moments occur when we intentionally create the conditions for neighbours to have exchanges. These can include skills exchanges, seed swaps, exchanges of books and toys, and repair cafes. The more these moments enable gift exchange (the giving and receiving of gifts), hospitality, and association, the more likely they will become part of a community’s customs and traditions.
Celebrate one another’s comings and goings, the plantings, and harvests. Celebrating neighbourliness and community life through local rituals, annual events, parties, sports events, fairs and front porch concerts are important ways to give ourselves a collective slap on the back. Adding food, fun, songs, and dance into the mix is a great way to honour our past achievements and dream up new community possibilities.
Envision with one another a preferred future. Creating a collective vision that establishes the priorities and reveals the possibilities for the shared future of a neighbourhood is a powerful way to bind the community together. It ensures that residents in the neighbourhood shape and own the shared vision.
These simple acts support and build a neighbourhood into a community. It’s from that “nest” of caring that a community’s health, wealth, and power grow.
Read the full article here.
As Church are we more intent on doing good things 'to' our neighbours rather than doing good things 'with' our neighbours? For example, providing lunches - are we involving our neighbours, especially those with skills, in supplying, prepping, cooking and serving? What connections could that make?
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From an article by the Good Men Project, 28/02/2023