Tonight is Night To Unite (formerly National Night Out) – an evening where neighbors gather together in an effort to get to know one another better. The short-term goal of the night is to socialize, have fun, and learn more about the people who live in the area; the longer-term goal of the evening is to encourage neighbors to look out for one another, in order to build stronger communities, help deter crime, and help increase safety.
Our neighborhood isn’t an overly social one. When my sweetie and I moved in to our house, no one came to our door to welcome us. After two weeks passed, our next door neighbors introduced themselves to us – but only because they happened to be at their mailbox at the same time I was picking up the newspaper. These days, because I walk around the neighborhood six times a week for about nine months out of the year (and because I have been doing this for the past 8 years), I now know the faces of nearly everyone in the neighborhood who is also active and/or who are in their yards at least some of the spring/summer/fall. As a result, people now wave to me and smile at me as I pass – but I still only know the names of 3 people (out of the 30 or whom I have come to recognize).
So even though tonight is an officially designated opportunity to break down barriers (real or perceived), I expected the evening would pass just like any other: cordial, but quiet. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw this image as I was wrapping up my nightly stroll:
And people were actually stopping by the designated house; they were gathering! Conversing! Drinking lemonade and munching cookies! Reading over safety literature provided by the city! Socializing! Wow!
It was super-cool to see. Even if the longer-term results aren’t fully realized, at least the short-term aims were accomplished. In my book, that’s a positive (and big!) first step. 🙂