Once in a while I come across a book which offers inspiring ideas for building stronger connections between people. The book Superbia! by Dan Chiras and Dave Wann has some great ideas for building fun, supportive community in existing suburban neighborhoods.
The small village character of Lemont was one of the things that drew me to purchase a home here. I have to admit that after five years, I know little of my neighbors. I could do more to connect with people in neighboring houses. Superbia! presents some easy steps for creating a more convivial and cohesive neighborly life as follow:
- Organizing community dinners/picnics or progressive dinners.
- Establishing a list of practical skills and short (true and humorous) biographies in a newsletter and village website.
- Starting neighborhood interest groups – gardening, book, exercise, biking, baseball, investment, and so on.
- Creating local car pools (so many of us probably work in State College).
- Establishing a neighborhood watch program.
- Enjoying musical entertainment together.
- Developing a local connection point, such as a coffee shop.
- Take down fences in some yards to create a backyard green, play spaces for children.
- Plant a community garden and orchard, establish an edible landscape.
- Establish neighborhood composting & recycling.
- Plant shade trees.
- Start a neighborhood babysitting co-op.
- Create a neighborhood work-share program – each hour a member donates earns credits for their own projects.
- Create a neighborhood asset inventory of tools and skills, environmental assets (e.g.- good fireworks watching sites, ancient trees).
The book builds from there into some intriguing visions of what can become a village of friends whose lives interact in meaningful, healthy ways. It tells stories of neighborhoods from across the United States which have developed into beautiful, cooperative networks of neighbors.
Sue and Ron Smith and others have been doing a great job organizing community events like these on what has become Lemont’s “village green” behind the Center for Well-Being and the Granary. If this view of what’s possible strikes a cord for you and looks like a village you’d like to live in, let’s meet with the Lemont Village Association to talk and see what more can be built between us.
Jackie has also put together an example of a letter [Sample Neighborhood Letter] you can adapt to your neighborhood and give to your neighbors, introducing the idea of a neighborhood email list. The sample will also be at the “Jump In” page.