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How to Be a Better Neighbor

Stay Connected

  • Find any excuse -- misdelivered mail, arriving home at the same time -- to chat in person. "Seeing each other's faces is just as important as the verbal connection," says Naomi Drew, author of Hope and Healing: Peaceful Parenting in an Uncertain World (Kensington).
  • Be predictable. Just walking your dog at the same time every day can spark friendships that last for years. "I never would have described my New York city neighborhood as a 'community' -- until we got a dog," says Lisa Hanock-Jasie. "Pets are a terrific ice-breaker. Not only do we talk about our dogs, we talk about our lives."
  • Create a group e-mail list so keeping in touch is easy. Alert neighbors to news and upcoming events, or rally around a neighbor in need.
  • Write a newsletter worth reading. Include city-related news that affects your neighborhood, discuss projects everyone can be involved in, promote a House of the Month, etc. Include classifieds (free, of course) for everything from items for sale to baby-sitting services.
  • Designate block captains. More than 20 people volunteer to be block captains for the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association. They deliver the quarterly newsletter door-to-door, welcome new neighbors and serve as the lookouts for anyone on their block who is in trouble or needs something.