Day 4: The Gift of Community!

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12 Days - PIFG

Today’s 12 Days theme or gift is ‘community,’ something everyone knows a little something about. But did you know that belonging to a supportive community leads to a host of benefits, including safer communities, people becoming more politically engaged and experiencing a deeper sense of health and well-being? The Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council certainly thinks so, and believes that ‘connected communities are safer communities.’ In other words, the key to creating safer communities is to target one of the root causes of crime, social alienation. One way to solve the root causes of many crimes is to increase human interaction in your neighbourhood, or, to get to know your neighbours.

In the spirit of this advice, we’ve compiled a list of ten ways you can be a good neighbour. During the 12 days, I challenge you to try 3 of these ten items. It’s not hard and you might be surprised at how positive the results are.

Shovel your neighbour’s driveway

For many people, shoveling is a chore they don’t look forward to. Surprising them by taking care of it is guaranteed to brighten their day, especially if your neighbour is elderly. Another thing you can do is make sure to shovel the sidewalk in front your house (and maybe a bit beyond!) right after it snows—for people with mobility problems, snow and ice on the sidewalk can be the difference between being able to leave the house and being stuck inside all day. If you’re able, doing your part to help keep your street accessible is the neighbourly thing to do!

Salvadore shoveling snow at our warehouse

Salvador shoveling snow at our warehouse

Say hi

This sounds simple to the point of being a little silly, but saying hi and getting to know your neighbours has been proven to reduce crime in neighbourhoods and increase one’s sense of belonging. In fact, the Crime Prevention Council of Waterloo Region has an entire campaign built around it! Visit www.sayhi.ca to learn more.

SayHiRound

Host a neighbourhood potluck or barbecue

Potlucks are great for many reasons. You can sample dishes from friends and neighbours that maybe you wouldn’t have tried otherwise, you can exchange recipes to broaden your kitchen repertoire, and you can host a party without doing all the cooking. If you live in a community with people from many backgrounds, have a multicultural potluck and get to know about each other’s culture in the most delicious way possible.

multicultural_potluck

Clean up garbage when you see it

Everyone prefers enjoying the outdoors where they live when it’s litter-free. Next time you walk by an empty pop can or plastic bag on the sidewalk, do everyone a favour and recycle it. Maybe if someone sees you they’ll do the same next time.

Litter-logo

Leave treats on doorsteps

How would you feel if you came home from a stressful day at work to find a box of homemade cookies and a card in your mailbox?

Join your local neighbourhood association

Neighbourhood associations are the backbone of local democracy. Neighbourhood associations are basically people who live in a geographic community getting together to organize events and lobby local government about issues affecting them. If you have a problem in your neighbourhood, think about how much more clout you would have at city council if you spoke up as part of an association rather than an individual. Plus, social events with people in your neighbourhood are fun! See a list of neighbourhood associations in Waterloo here, and in Kitchener here.

festival of neighbourhoods

Ask for help if you need it

This may seem counterproductive since many of us don’t want to be a burden on our neighbours, but asking for help with small things, and repaying the favour, is a good way to build relationships. If you’re going away for the weekend and you need someone to check in on a pet or water your garden, or if you’re just too busy one week to walk the dog, your neighbour would probably be delighted to assist you. Make sure you repay the favour when they ask, and all of a sudden life for both of you just got a bit easier. Try making a few of these great doorknob hangers to break the ice, and hang them up if you need to borrow something or just want to have a chat.

can i borrow

Pay a neighbourhood kid to shovel your snow, if they offer

If you see a poster on your street made by a kid or teenager offering their services with yard work or snow removal, why not take them up on it? You get to know someone else on your street, and they get to earn some extra cash at what is probably their first job. Extra bonus: when you’re exhausted from shoveling your neighbours driveways (see tip number 1) you’ll get a night off. Earn some extra neighbour points by bringing them hot chocolate when they’re done. The Crime Prevention Council believes that when you build confidence in a young person they are more likely to be able to say ‘no’ when they need to, and giving them their first job is certainly a confidence booster.

Give your neighbours a heads up, or invite them over

If you’re having a holiday party, invite your neighbours! Even if they don’t come it’s bound to make them feel good. At the very least, if you live in an apartment building giving a heads up that there’ll be party going on is common courtesy.

Keep an eye out

You don’t need to be the neighbourhood busy-body to keep an eye out for people on your street. If you know your neighbours, you’ll notice if someone strange is rooting around their garage or looking in their windows. Again, knowing your neighbours can reduce crime in your area.

neighbourhood watch

Do you do one of these things regularly and have a story about it? Did you try one of these items for the first time? Let us know how it went on twitter  (#12daysforgood) or in the comments!

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