26 January 2016
Hi, I’m Susan, and my mission over the next seven weeks is to attempt to bring my first Neighbours Day activity to life.
I’ll be knocking on my neighbours’ doors, figuring out what we should do on our street and how we should do it, AND sharing it all with you each week.
Why am I keeping a diary? Well, basically because the organisers at Neighbours Day Aotearoa sent out a message looking for someone who’d be willing to take a lot of photos and share all their progress with the entire Neighbours Day mailing list every week, and I said “sign me up!”.
So here we are, my diary of a neighbour, week 1. Before I get started knocking on doors, this week, I wanted to introduce myself to you…
A bit about me
I moved into my neighbourhood over two years ago as a newly separated mother of two young children. I was really lucky to have connected to one of my immediate neighbours on the day I moved in, but what with work in the city and then taking care of my children in the evening, and I must admit an almost crippling shyness, I had little chance to truly meet my other neighbours other than to say a brief hello.
One of my next door neighbours recently fed our cat while we were away over Christmas, for which I am very grateful, and another has lent me his ladder once. But in two years I still feel rather disconnected from the other people in my street.
It got me to wondering. Do others feel the same? And what can I do about that?
I’d heard about Neighbours Day last year – radio ads and the odd Facebook post. The notion of a Neighbours Day brought back memories from when I was a child. To when the children played in the streets freely, the adults knew each other as more than just passing ‘hellos’ and a time when everyone knew each other’s name. It was just how it was. The seed was planted in my mind to reclaim that notion of truly knowing your neighbours as a natural part of our everyday lives. But like all seeds, this one took a little time to sprout.
Last year I had neither the energy, time nor motivation to pursue the notion of being involved with a Neighbours Day activity. Pretty lame I know, but I was afraid of not knowing what to do or really how to get involved…and to be honest I was afraid of rejection.
This year is very different. Through various simple conversations with my dear friend and neighbour, and others I have met recently who work with connecting communities, I’ve decided to get involved and initiate a Neighbours Day 2016 activity on my street.
Why? Because I have a great need to connect to others in my local community. I want to let others know I am here to be a support, here to help and maybe, if I am really lucky, here to be a friend. So my reasons for having a Neighbours Day activity are in fact, very selfish indeed!
I am not sure if my neighbours will be receptive to the idea of gathering together in March. But what if they are? What if they are also wishing for a closeness to the other people in their street? What if we are all just waiting for someone to knock on our door to say, “Hi. I’m your neighbour. How do you like the idea of celebrating and having fun for an afternoon?”
So that’s my simple plan. In the next couple of weeks I am going to get started by doing exactly that. I am going to go door knocking to make the initial contact, find out how many people are interested in gathering for a simple event and go from there.
My diary will document the progress, the celebrations, the challenges and ultimately the actual Neighbour’s Day celebration. I hope this is the beginning of something truly wonderful for all of the people who become involved. A real chance to connect, to go from being neighbours, to making lasting friends.
I hope you’ll follow my progress each week – and get your own planning underway of course. Which reminds me, if you haven’t already, take the first step and head to www.neighboursday.org.nz/join-nda to sign-up to take part on 19-20 March.
Until next week,