Be a Good Neighbor and Get to Know Your Neighbors

Today’s post is the third in a series of posts over the next few weeks, taking a “deeper dive” into the concepts at the heart of Melody Warnick’s book, This is Where You Belong.

Here is Warnick’s list of ten placement behaviors that she developed on the journey to “Love where you live.”

  1. Walk more
  2. Buy local
  3. Get to know your neighbors
  4. Do fun stuff
  5. Explore nature
  6. Volunteer
  7. Eat local
  8. Become more political
  9. Create something new
  10. Stay loyal through hard times

Place attachment research shows that many of the good feelings we have about the cities where we live stem from the sense that we have relationships there. Here was my chance to craft a “Love Where You Live” experiment that could, potentially, make me happier in my town immediately.

I would make an effort to get to know the locals.

Melody Warnick

Warnick believes that falling in love with your town needs to involve knowing ( and at least sort of liking) your neighbors. And it’s because of a little thing called “neighborhood cohesion,” a term used by social scientists to describe the level of closeness and connection neighbors feel toward each other. In studies, it’s measured by asking people whether they can agree with statements like these:

  • This is a close-knit neighborhood.
  • People around here are willing to help their neighbors.
  • People in this neighborhood generally get along with each other.
  • People in this neighborhood share the same values.
  • My neighbors can be trusted.

When people answer yes, it portends positive outcomes for both physical and emotional health.

Warnick determined that if she was going to use a Love Where You Live experiment to challenge her default settings on behaviors that she knew were making it difficult to become attached to her town, she would have to be a better neighbor.

Her first simple goal: find out who her neighbors were.

Here are a few of the many ideas found in her book:

  • Celebrate Good Neighbor Day. It’s September 28th, but you can declare any holiday or even an ordinary day a special day when you feel like meeting your neighbors.
  • Make and update a spreadsheet of the people on your block or apartment hall/building.
  • Welcome anyone who moves into a house you can see from your front porch or in your apartment building. You don’t have to prepare an elaborate welcome gift – just start by saying “Hi” and see what happens from there.
  • Eat a meal with neighbors. Start out simple, and in today’s climate, “socially distanced,” by inviting neighbors to bring whatever they were going to eat and have a picnic outside.
  • Offer to house-sit or pet-sit for neighbors going out of town. This assumes a level of trust, but you would be surprised how quickly your offer may get accepted.
  • And the biggie: Throw a block party! Maybe the most daunting, but most awesome, of all. You will become a neighborhood legend.

I was beginning to understand the value of meeting our neighbors face-to-face, even when – especially when – they’re not like us.

Melody Warnick

The “place” in place attachment isn’t an abstract concept. Place is physical proximity. The process of putting down roots naturally begins close to home, with the people who live right around us.

I can’t emphasize this enough: If you like the idea of loving where you live, of being a better neighbor, or anything remotely connected, you MUST check out the work of Melody Warnick. Follow her on social media. Buy the book. Sign up for the newsletter on her website. Peruse the website for other articles she has written. It’s all PURE GOLD.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s