ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Create A Social Community

Updated on October 10, 2013
A park in our neighborhood; one of many.
A park in our neighborhood; one of many. | Source
Lovely green belt pathways
Lovely green belt pathways | Source
A work in progress
A work in progress | Source

Do you see evidence of change in your community?

See results

I have written at length about the neighborhood I grew up in. Without a doubt back in the 60’s there was more of a feeling of community in our cities. Such was the case on 18th and Monroe in Tacoma, Washington. The two-block radius in which I grew up was a community onto itself with residents knowing each other on a first name basis and a sense of safety and belonging which is not often seen in 2012. Oh, to be sure, there are isolated neighborhoods today where there is still a feeling of kinship and common purpose, but for the most part what I see today is far removed from the neighborhoods of old.

Why is that? The reasons are many and complicated, fodder for the sociologists and psychologists to snack over as they attempt to explain the nature of such things. I could spend time here today tossing around my own personal reflections on these reasons but I choose to look instead at what can be done to improve the livability of our nation’s neighborhoods.

Today I live in a rather remarkable neighborhood, the Northeast Neighborhood of Olympia, Washington. Remarkable in that this neighborhood and its residents have taken it upon themselves to create a safe haven for those who live here. They have organized under a common purpose, livability, and have been quite successful in their efforts.

So what can be done in other neighborhoods today to restore the livability?

FROM ONE GROWS MANY

It begins at an individual level and this is the responsibility of each neighbor. Take the initiative to go around the neighborhood and introduce yourself to those living near. Strike up friendships and learn more about each other. Investing the time to do this will pay huge dividends as the years march on.

When I was growing up our neighbors heavily invested the time and effort to become a community. We knew each other well, taking the time to learn about jobs, habits, likes and dislikes. As friendships grew we naturally looked out for each other and I promise you that if a stranger entered our neighborhood we knew it immediately. There was a constant vigilance that provided a feeling of security and if there was a problem help was always available.

Friendships led to block parties and impromptu gatherings on summer evenings. Neighbors would stand in driveways talking about life, sharing with each other and becoming a cohesive unit. If someone had a major chore you could count on neighbors pitching in to help with the landscaping, painting or construction. It was, in a very real sense, an extended family.

So, what’s preventing you from doing the same thing? Are you waiting for someone else to contact you? A community movement begins with one person, and then another and another until there is a group of like-minded people. Reach out, become the first, make the initial move that may lead to wonderful things.

Go around to your neighbors and introduce yourself. There is no investment other than a few minutes of your time. Say hello when you pass someone on the street. If you see a neighbor in need of help go offer in the spirit of friendship. Break the ice, become acquaintances and then friends. You will be amazed at the dividends these simple acts of kindness will pay.

AND THE MANY SHALL ACT

Once a bond has been formed you can then act as a cohesive group. What do you want for your neighborhood? What are your chief concerns? Do you want a safe area to live in? Do you want more traffic control? Do you want more mass transit or amenities? Better police and fire department presence?

Maybe you would like more recreation opportunities in the form of more parks and play areas or perhaps you would like to see the area cleaned up and made more beautiful. Do you want a voice in city planning and/or zoning? Are you concerned with the quality of the schools or the safety of the schools?

Never underestimate the power of a small group of determined people. Great accomplishments have been attained in communities around the world but each and every one of them began with a small, determined group of people who had a vision and the willingness to do what was necessary to make that vision a reality.

Change requires action. Finger-pointing and grumbling about the state of the world are useless undertakings as is waiting for someone else to address the problem. In the case of a city the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Cities find themselves with shrinking budgets and increased demand for services. It is only logical that money will be allocated to those areas that are organized and mount a determined campaign.

Bottom line: nothing happens unless someone makes it happen and why shouldn’t that someone be you?

A RETURN TO THE OLD DAYS

It begins with baby steps. The Northeast Neighborhood Association in Olympia began with a small group of concerned citizens. They wrote a mission statement based on common ideals and then they rolled up their sleeves and made it happen. Volunteers every one of them but volunteers determined to live in a safe and pleasant environment. Parks were built, community activities were organized and safety measures enacted and the work continues today. What was once a dream is now a reality and it all began with baby steps.

What do you want for your neighborhood? A community garden? A 4th of July neighborhood picnic or a neighborhood watch program? Perhaps you would love to see more green belt areas and a lovely park for the kids to play in. Someone needs to get the ball rolling and it might as well be you.

Step outside and go meet a neighbor. Introduce yourself and begin a discourse the way people have been doing for centuries. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to make the first move. This is where you live. This is where your family will grow. This is your neighborhood. Step up to the plate and make things happen. Never underestimate the power of a determined group of people.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Vidya Mallar profile image

      Vidya Mallar 5 years ago from India

      This is a very informative and effective hub, Billy. Here Am glad to say that we are in close contact with our neighbors and always have some time to spend with them.. We are united as you told and even find time for entertainment with them like playing throw ball most often when everybody has time.. And when any one needs any help we are always ready for each other..

      We have to admit that neighbors reach us first when we need help and relatives reach later...

      This hub sure will reach many as a message to humanity, safety and unity..

      Voted up as always dear...

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Billybuc, this is a very important topic to me. We live in a nice neighborhood but are just getting to know our neighbors. The neighborhood pool has helped me get to know my neighbors and participating in other events like this also help. I just need to work on remembering their names, I'm horrible at this.. Like you i think it is very important to have supportive relationships with your neighbors! Voted up an shared! Take care, Kelley

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vidya, I love the scene that you describe in your neighborhood. That's how it was when I was growing up. You could always count on your neighbors to be there. Thank you my dear and rest well tonight.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kelley! I, too, am horrible at names and I was when I was teaching too. I got pretty good at faking it but it bothers me that I can't seem to grasp hold of a name when I'm told. Anyway, thank you and I'm glad you see the value in these types of relationships.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I always try to get to know my neighbors. I do have one that I have a problem with but we tend to just ignore each other :) But for the most part I live a nice community.

      You offer some great tips and I'm sure all that read your hub will benefit from it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Susan; you most definitely have one that is a party pooper judging from your hub!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Your neighborhood sounds like something right out of Sesame Street:) lol I have only recently encountered one ignorant neighbor - other than that - I am the neighborhood mom. I take all the kids to and from school and often feed the troups too. I know all of my neighbors first and last names I believe but I am a wave at the mailbox type. I don't get too involved in anyone else's business unless asked.

      I do have a pretty nice neighborhood but there always has to be one bad apple huh?

      Excellent hub here Bill - I wish you were my neighbor! I will link this to my neweest:) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I will do the same, Kelly! If we were neighbors we would get into too much trouble causing hell. :)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      bill...I like this hub and really appreciate the thought you put into the steps we can take in our own neighborhood.

      In fact, I liked it so much, I flew into action. I marched right outside to fire up my plan!

      Walked right down to the creek and found Mr. Turtle, sitting on his rock as usual. (I think I may have interrupted his fishing) He was pretty aloof, but at least he listened instead of retreating into his shell....(very shy guy.) Next thing I knew, he was more intersted in taking a dip than talking.....

      I didn't get discouraged. I followed the trail in the woods and found the Heron Family. They live just past Elm and Oak. Mrs. Heron obviously has issues....I hear it's post-partum depression....well, you know, quadruplets can be tiring. She seems a bit paranoid and over-protective of her kids. In fact, my buddy, we call him "Coyote," tells me she practically pecked his eyeballs out last week just for looking in their direction!. I decided I'd wait and maybe talk to Mr. Heron, the pilot, when he's not out flying here and there.

      I know Pete & Polly Rabbit...they hang out quite a bit in our yard. They seem mezmerized by our vegetable garden. (You've probably heard of their eldest son, Eddie....he was a C&W singer) Anyway, I chatted with them a few minutes, but Pete was about to go on down the trail and Polly seemed busy with their kids....all 30 of them. Just between you and me, bill....the woman needs to have her tubes tied!! Read my lips Polly "BIRTH CONTROL!!"

      Looks like I chose a bad time to go neighbor-hopping. I'll try again another day. Thanks for tips bill!!!

      Oh, Geesh, I can hear the Ferals fighting again. I may stay away from them....they're a bit on the wild side.

      UP+++

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I swear to God you just wait until I post a hub and then you spring into action. You have all this pent-up angst and it just spills out as soon as I give you some ammunition. LOL I swear I have tears in my eyes.

      It is really time for you to write a hub about this...you already have what, two hundred words and you haven't even tried. Come on! Just for me! Please!!!!

      You crack me up something fierce. Thanks buddy! At the very least I got a view out of all this. :)

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Growing up on military bases, this kind of community was pretty much a given. Everyone worked and lived together. It was a lot like living in a small town...whatever you did during the day got back to the parents. :) When we eventually moved off base, it was sort of a culture shock to live in a neighborhood where you didn't know anyone. My parents worked really hard to get to know all of our neighbors but it just wasn't the same. In all of my travels, I have yet to experience the same "community" in a neighborhood as I loved growing up on base. I always wondered how to go about creating a little piece of "home" where ever I lived. Thank you for outlining how to go about that and for a great hub. At least I don't have neighbors like fph! I only have to deal with the rowdy, party all night coyote gang. :)

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Great hub with a great message billybuc! There's no point in being strangers with those beside you. Voted up and awesome!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      TT, those damn coyotes are a fun loving bunch for sure! I didn't know you were a military brat! Maybe that explains your footloose ways a bit??? Thanks as always for stopping by; you mean a lot to me.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Weestro, I just think something important is missing in communities today, that feeling of being a part of a clan so to speak. I hope to see it return one day. Thank you for commenting. I'll be by to read your new one shortly.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      What a great hub, Billy! I think that sense of community that used to be so prevalent has been lost over time. It's very valuable, to be sure, and you've provided some excellent advice on how to foster that. Voted up!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      My pleasure, Bill, it's alawys enjoyable reading anything penned by you. :) You mean a lot to me as well. :) Yep, dad retired from the military towards the end of my freshman year in high school only because he was due to be transferred to Germany. Mom and dad decided instead of yanking me out of school and trying to sell the house they had just bought a year before, he would retire. He was able to apply his 22 years of military service towards his employment with the State of Alaska and was filling out the papers to retire from the State when he passed away suddenly in 1993. Mom worked for the Department of the Army, Contracting Division. I got my first real job across the hall in the Purchasing Department. A year later, I married a sailor. The military was pretty much all I knew until I divorced my first husband and my mom retired from government service in 1995. Ok, I had a few lurid affairs with a couple of beefy soldiers along the way that were 10 years my junior, but we won't go into that in this venue. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Crystal, thank you my dear. I am becoming a big fan of yours very quickly and I appreciate you stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh come on, TT, I think those lurid affairs would make a great hub! Damn, it's just like you to leave me hanging in the breeze without satisfaction. :)

      In fact, your whole damn life would make for some interesting reading. I'm glad I got smart and started following you.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Yes, I confess, I am the Premier Hub Predator. I lay in wait to pounce upon my fellow-hubbers. (Hey, it worked when I snared Jim)....but he's kinky like that.

      You don't have to swear just because you have tears in your eyes......Probably just allergies.

      Get a handle on it, Dude.....I'm only gonna get worse, as time goes on....Just like Poison ivy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, you speak true words...you are only going to get worse as time goes on. Just one more reason to love having you as a friend. :)

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Right on! Up, useful, interesting,and shared. I've lived in great towns and neighborhoods, and it was such initiative that made them special. Like in the early 1950s in our village in Illinois, my mom was one of a few moms who took the initiative to start a Cub Scout group. When I was a teen, my dad led and helped win the township public library's campaign to get the taxing approved to expand the library. There were many instances when I lived in Moscow, Idaho -- a community radio station; a community garden; a volunteer group that got fresh fruits and vegetables from backyard trees and gardens to food banks; an annual town celebration of community called CommUnity Walk and Potluck; a food co-op that is a cultural center; an abandoned high school converted into a community center; an assortment of sorts of public and private schools and homeschool groups; bicycle friendly laws, regulations, and amenities -- each of these being at first just an idea of one or a few residents who took the initiative.

    • profile image

      onlooker 5 years ago

      Bill, I'd love to be a part of your neighborhood for sure. Times have changed especially around the cities. In our neighborhood I hardly know anyone. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. Everyone keeps to themselves, tends to their own gardens and walkways. A community like yours would be lovely. Beautiful thought. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      B. Leekley, I think all of us who are a certain age have many such instances of making things happen like you describe. It simply takes initiative and a willingness to make the effort but it is oh so important. Communities need to band together rather than isolate. Thank you for your great comment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ava, I don't know what has happened over the years but more and more neighborhoods in this country are becoming isolated just as you described. I find it sad quite frankly. As a community....as a race of people...we need to be willing to reach out and become a community in more than name.

      anyway, enough preaching by me...thank you my dear friend.

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Good advice! Our neighborhood has a community watch which is also helpful. As a child, we all knew each other ...sure not like that anymore. Reaching out to others is a great way to become closer to our neighbors. Vote up!!!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Safe haven - amazing for sure. This hub puts a new spin on love your neighbor, as how can you love your neighbor when you do not know your neighbor! Sadly, when I travel back to my childhood neighborhood, it is just a whole different world from back then. Even the neighborhood my children grew up in, is now no longer a "safe haven" with crime, etc. Every neighborhood just needs to get its very own billybuc! Voted Up In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pickles, no, it is not like that anymore but it can be. It takes a ground movement, little steps at a time, but we can regain what we all once had. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, may peace and happiness always be your companions...you are a very kind woman and I wish you the best always.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      Great hub. I am fortunate to live in a wonderful neighborhood where we all know one another and hang out together, and it's easy to forget this is not the norm anymore.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, I am so happy for you; that's how our neighborhood is too but no, this is definitely not the norm. Thanks for reading.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I love "returning to the old days." Even small rewards such as being able to run to a neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar makes it feel like a family. My neighborhood is like that and I feel so fortunate. I even have neighbors who pass me by as I'm out for a walk with a "we love you miss Audrey." What a feeling that gives me! We all watch out for each other. Your suggestions for creating a livable neighborhood are just great billy. Voted up and sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Audrey! I hate to sound like I'm living in the past but the good old days were, at times, truly good old days and much of that spirit could be had again today if people would set aside their fear and reach out to help others.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      First, I apologize in my tardiness to read, much less comment, Bill! This is a wonderful hub and so meaningful! We've lost our connection. It needs to be regained and, you're right, each one reading this hub needs to be the first to start. No reason to bitch and wish and complain, then, huh?

      I'm pleased to say, the little neighborhood in which I live in Florida, is devoid of HOAs (probably one of maybe three in the area!) because it's an old neighborhood. I've got a flourish of native trees in my back yard, the properties in front and in back of mine are treed and have been willed by the owners not to be built upon. So, although I'm within minutes of the amenities (or necessities, I should say), I have a peaceful, nature-filled country setting surrounding my modest 1,300 sq ft home.

      There are 6 houses on my block. We are all neighbors an friends. We look out for each other. When our children were young (now adults) we watched them as they played and had no qualms about keeping them out of danger or not doing something which their parents would not approve.

      We sit in our driveways together, or in the back yard with the fire pit going, music on and we share each others lives.

      We garden together, (my neighbor has carte blanche to the gardening tools in my shed), we have block parties where all contribute their specialty (or in the case of men, bringing napkins, plates and chips! ha ha!!)

      My point is, I bought my house because of the trees in my backyard. My son was not quite 3. He's now almost 20 and I've had much help in keeping him safe, loving him and I've got very dear friends who are like family.

      We each need to make the first step. Only we can make our lives fruitful of our dreams. Safety. Love. Comraderie. That's what it's all about, my friend!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I can remember the good old days when everyone knew all their neighbors first name, never thought about locking the door, windows up for that wonderful night breeze. We are just too busy. As you state," We can change, If we will try."..Great hub....

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, there is no reason to apologize. We all lead busy lives and you work full-time. I appreciate you taking the time to read this.

      What you just described is the neighborhood I grew up in for twenty years. Exactly the same type of interaction where everyone looked out for each other. It was a heavenly way for a kid to grow up and I for one miss that way of life.

      If what we have is progress then I'm not too terribly impressed with progress.

      Live long and prosper my dear friend.

      LOL

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, it always comes down to a willingness to change and make an effort. Sadly not many are willing to make that effort. Thank you my friend!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      You are fortunate to live in such a caring community. The landscaping is beautiful. It is always a good sign when block parties are held. It does mean everyone wants to mingle and share their lives. Great hub topic and well written.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Teaches, we are fortunate to live where we live. In three years we will move to the country and then I guess neighbors will be a thing of the past, but until then we will continue to be an active part of this community.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You are quite right that the sense of community begins at the individual level. Instead of waiting for your neighbours to introduce themselves, why not take the fist step. Perhaps fear of rejection stops people from taking that step. Well written Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Christy! It's always nice to see your smiling face grace my site.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Why the contingency of three years, Bill? I would love to live in the country. No clothes needed, no univited guests interrupting an inopportune moment, total union with Nature.... I really like the no clothes part!

      But, first I have to pay off the mortgage....

      I know! I'll pay off the mortgage, quit my day job and freelance naked! What a dream, huh? :-)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, we are waiting for Bev's daughter to graduate from high school so we can sell the house and buy new property.

      Naked freelancer? Sounds like a hub idea to me! LOL

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Now I see! My son just graduated 2 years ago. But I have 13 years left on my mortgage.

      Naked freelancer hub? Nah. How 'bout lifestyle? You've got the handle on lifestyle changes. Now it's my turn to challenge you, my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, that is not going to happen in this lifetime or lifestyle. :)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Oh, well, it was worth a shot! :-)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, it never hurts to ask! :)

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      brilliant Bill!...

      your knack of things is commendable.. and its extent..pretty vast!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rahul! I have lived a long time and many things affect me. Thankfully I have learned from many wise people.

      I appreciate you young man!

    Click to Rate This Article