Acts of Neighboring Are Easier Than Many People Imagine

  • Published: Tuesday, April 27, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Performing an act of neighboring is easier than many people imagine according to David Burton, county engagement specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Acts of neighboring are often simple gestures that you help you be a good neighbor, lift up others and make your neighborhood or community a better place to live,” said Burton.

Dave Runyon, author of “The Art of Neighboring” sometimes defines it this way: “neighboring means learning the names of the people that live closest to you, using their names, and throwing great social events.”

Burton has created a list of neighboring examples to help people think about what it could mean in their neighborhood.

“Do not be limited by this list, just consider it a basic starting point,” said Burton.

Neighboring ideas for a community novice:

  1. Go for a walk and bring a small trash bag to pick up trash along the sidewalk.
  2. Use sidewalk chalk to write an inspiring message on the sidewalk in front of your home.
  3. Ask an elderly neighbor or parent with young children if you can pick up items for them while you’re at the store.
  4. If you play a musical instrument, give invitations to your neighbors to attend an outdoor concert on the curb at a given time.
  5. Introduce yourself to a neighbor, especially if you’ve lived near each other for a while but haven’t met.
  6. Compliment a neighbor on a feature of their home or garden.
  7. Offer to mow the lawn of a busy young family or older adult neighbor.
  8. Make a double batch of the cookies you’re baking and bring some to a neighbor.
  9. Know parents who could use a night out?  Offer to babysit a neighbor’s child for free.
  10. Organize a blitz neighborhood cleanup.
  11. Make dinner for a neighbor who has just had a baby or surgery. 
  12. Throw a socially distanced happy hour. Invite your neighbors to hang out on their porches one evening, in waving and shouting distance.  
  13. Join your neighborhood association or HOA.  
  14. Create an emergency contact list with your neighbors.  You’ll be one another’s first line of defense in case of a disaster.
  15. Give a neighbor a book you think they would like.
  16. Write a letter of encouragement to a neighbor you know is having a hard time.
  17. Send a friend a helpful or inspiring article that made you think of them.
  18. Host a neighborhood book club.
  19. Host a neighborhood monthly men’s club where you meet and learn about the hobby of a neighbor (like car restoration).
  20. Host neighborhood chats in lawnchairs on the driveway.
  21. Move a picnic table to your front yard for a gathering spot with neighbors.
  22. Host a neighbor for coffee and dessert.
  23. Front yard game nights.
  24. Neighborhood contest for lawns or Christmas lights.
  25. Neighborhood backyard garden tour.

Neighboring is the art and skill of building relationships with the people who live in closest proximity to you. Neighboring begins by learning and using names, it grows through associations, and ultimately it bears fruit with engaged neighbors who can positively impact their neighborhood and their community.

University of Missouri Extension is at the forefront of a national movement that recognizes the importance of neighboring in community development. As community leaders and advocates, we encourage friends to learn the names of all their neighbors, build relationships with their neighbors through common interests and shared experiences, and sustain compassionate and caring practices of neighborly love.

To learn more about our "Engaged Neighbor" program, or for more on the impact of neighboring, go online to https://extension.missouri.edu or contact David Burton by email at [email protected] or telephone at (417) 881-8909.

“Becoming an Engaged Neighbor” can also be found on Facebook.

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Writer: David Burton

Media Contact

David Burton
417/881-8909

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