SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The vast majority of Americans do not know the names of their nearest neighbors, do not speak to those neighbors and do not know a personal fact about them.

Most Americans have never had a conversation with their neighbor. Maybe they grunt when they pass on the street or wave when pulling out of the driveway, but that is its extent.

"We have become disconnected from our neighbors. Then issues with our neighbors arise because we do not know the person," said David Burton, a community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Current social research shows that many in our culture suffer from a lack of personal relationships, which leads to isolation, depression, anger, and more.

"Developing personal relationships with neighbors takes effort and planning. It should be a priority, and the benefits are plentiful, both personally and for our community," said Burton.


Thomas P. Farley, better known as Mister Manners, is an etiquette expert and author of "Modern Manners: The Thinking Person's Guide to Social Graces."

Farley says that being a good neighbor requires showing up, being kind and civil, and being deliberate in forming neighbor relationships.

It starts small, like getting to know someone's name and then getting facts about them.

"You must make an effort to remember people's names. If you meet somebody, write their name down," said Farley.

Making name connections is the essential starting point to building community and developing positive relationships.

"If we can consider our neighbors to be friends, we're building communities. We start building bonds. We have less frustration. The research shows that we're seeing so many issues because we're such a transient population. People move more than they ever did," said Farley.

Neighbors who stay put and raise kids together have a vested interest in keeping the community safe, clean, and welcoming.

"If you are connected as neighbors, you're not just a group of ghosts passing one another as if you don't exist, you're friends, you're colleagues, you're all in a scenario together," said Farley.


You can find and download a helpful neighbor chart on the Greene County MU Extension website at

The chart is available on the Engaged Neighbor program page. The chart provides an easy way to write down and help you remember the names of your immediate neighbors. 

Burton has a YouTube video titled "Using Neighborhood Chart" that explains how to use the simple chart.


University of Missouri Extension is at the forefront of a national movement recognizing the importance of neighboring in community development. MU Extension is offering classes like "Neighboring 101" and "Becoming an Engaged Neighbor" along with three annual neighboring events as a way to raise awareness and encourage others to focus on neighbors.

To learn more about our "Engaged Neighbor" program or the impact of neighboring, go online to or contact David Burton by email or telephone at (417) 881-8909. "Becoming an Engaged Neighbor" can also be found on Facebook.

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