Throughout my 20s, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to pursue community alongside others. Some experiences have been encouraging and uplifting. At other times, putting myself out there has been challenging and hard to figure out. (That’s part of being human!) If you’ve ever tried to build community in your neighborhood and felt stuck, this post is for you.
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Last year, my husband and I moved into a new home in a brand new neighborhood. We love the feeling and comfort of planting our roots somewhere familiar. However, we both tend to lean toward the quiet side of life. Meaning, at the end of busy days or weeks, our homebody tendencies are in full force!
When it comes to building community in your neighborhood, I’ve learned that the biggest changes happen when you’re willing to take the leap and be consistent. Speaking as an introvert, it’s downright scary to extend the first hello or throw out the invitation. When you don’t even know the names of the people next door, those small actions seem like huge steps.
“Front Yard People”
As I often do, I turned to an inviting little book at the library to help me navigate this new season of life. The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell ended up being such a surprising inspiration! Kristin talks about a tradition her family established to build community in their neighborhood. It’s a tradition I had to share here on the blog.
Kristin’s family did one simple (maybe even peculiar thing) to start meeting people. They planted a big, inviting, turquoise picnic table right in their front yard. Kristin stationed herself at that table in the mornings, during meal times, by herself, or with family. She used it as a meeting place and point of attraction when her neighbors would come outside, check mail, or pass by on walks.
As a result of simply being visible, Kristin created a local movement. She discovered that her neighbors, friends, and new acquaintances wanted to stop by and chat. They wanted to be seen and heard and have a place to unload burdens and share life.
Kristin calls this being “front yard people.” If you’re looking for a way to build community in your neighborhood and have an impact on the lives of those around you – this book is an amazing place to start. Kristin even shares fun recipes throughout the book that have become family and neighborhood favorites. (Stay tuned for a super fun giveaway at the end of this post!)
So how do you begin to build community in your neighborhood (even as an introvert)?
Build community in your neighborhood by taking chances
The first time we were invited over to a big neighborhood get-together was on a Friday night about 3 weeks after our son was born. As new (exhausted) parents, getting ready for a typical “adult” evening was not at all what we felt like doing. We had no idea how a 3-week old baby would do at a big party, and we were super skeptical of our ability to make normal conversation at the height of sleep deprivation.
Fortunately, we took the risk and marched a few doors down. Taking that one chance was how we met many new faces for the first time. It gave us the opportunity to start recognizing names and to meet other families who were in a similar stage of life.
Look for opportunities to serve and help other people
Is there a family in your neighborhood that just brought home a new baby? Do you know of someone recovering from surgery? Is the weather forecast promising a blizzard or big storm? These are all opportunities to reach out and serve, even if you’re naturally introverted. You can prepare a meal for new parents, pick up groceries for someone who can’t get out, or stop by to check in when the weather is bad. One of my goals this year is to bake up a big batch of these cookies and deliver a few baskets door-to-door. After all, who can say no to cookies?
Stay up-to-date with neighborhood Facebook groups
Before you wonder how Facebook is going to help you get out and meet new people, give me a chance to explain! 🙂 Even though social media provides a way to “know” others without truly getting to know them, it can be used as a tool.
Our neighborhood has a private Facebook group, and it’s been a great way to post about get-togethers, opportunities, and other tidbits about neighborhood life. I often find that it even puts many people at ease meeting in passing if they’ve already gotten to know you a bit through posts.
Facebook groups can also be great for:
- Sending out invites to small gatherings.
- Asking for help with babysitting, dog-walking, or other care.
- Inviting new neighbors to their first community experience.
- Making decisions that impact the neighborhood at large.
Spend time outside and say hello!
When we first moved into our neighborhood, I happened to be pregnant. I was also determined to walk the baby out, so I did neighborhood laps very often! So when we attended that party I mentioned before, I can’t tell you how many people said, “Oh, you were the walking pregnant lady!” Hey, I’ll take it.
Even something as simple as taking a nightly walk presents more opportunities that you may expect. It never hurts to get outside, whether that means a taking short walk to the mailbox or hosting a small cookout on your back deck. These initial opportunities may just be the gateway to long-lasting friendships down the road.
Turquoise Table Giveaway!
I’m so excited to share with you that Kristin Schell and the team at Turquoise Table have been kind enough to sponsor a giveaway on Write One Week! As a reader of the blog, you have a chance to win an autographed copy of the book! Here’s how to enter:
- Leave a comment here on the blog or ‘like‘ the giveaway post on my Instagram page and tag a friend.
- The contest will stay open until Wednesday, June 5 at midnight EST.
- A winner will be chosen randomly from the entries here on the blog and via Instagram.
- Good luck, friends!