Come together

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.  🙂



About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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16 Responses to Come together

  1. rutheh says:

    The sign is such a wonderful invitation. How creative!
    I guess it was socialize night here in Pittsburgh tonight, too if it is national?
    YIKES. Totally missed it.
    Last year when a new couple moved in next door, I gave a party in my back driveway and there were 22 of us for supper. They thought it was great and were feeling very welcomed. No one has had a party since that I know of….but it was a lot of fun for everyone.


    • Stef says:

      Ruth, I agree – the sign is great!

      Yes, the event is a national one (except in Texas; they have theirs in October, I think, because it’s just too hot in August).

      Wow, you are a *fantastic* neighbor! I wish you lived in my community… 🙂


  2. Touch2Touch says:

    Really nice post, Stef! This doesn’t happen so much (as you relate) and it has to be a good warm feeling to be part of it when it does.


  3. barb19 says:

    It’s a shame that people tend to keep themselves to themselves these days, because we all benefit from knowing our neighbours – like in the old days, chatting over the garden fence! We knew their kids too – by name! It was a community who cared about each other.
    It looks like your Night to Unite is getting off to a good start, and I hope it will be a huge success for everyone concerned. It will if everyone makes an effort. Good luck!


    • Stef says:

      I know – when I was a kid growing up I knew all of the kids (and families) on our street for certain, and on a few other streets in the larger neighborhood. Part of me wonders if my (and my sweetie’s) particular ‘isolation’ is that we don’t have kids… but then I look around, and see that the bulk of the neighborhood is this way. Kind of sad… 😦 But tonight was a nice event to witness. 🙂


  4. Pauline says:

    Did you stop in and meet some of your neighbors?

    It’s funny – I was counting the houses whose occupants I knew, at least by name, as I walked the mile home from town this morning. I realized, that in the two mile stretch that contains my closest neighbors, I know only a handful of people. Perhaps I shall adopt the Night to Unite idea. When I was a kid, everyone in my neighborhood (another rural mile) knew each other!


    • Stef says:

      Pauline, ironically (and sadly), I didn’t stop in on the event. I was already running late (I left work about 30 minutes late, which pushed my entire night behind) – so I smiled and waved as I walked past, but didn’t stop. I know, I know… I’m as much a part of the problem as anyone else…


  5. I need to start walking like you do to get to know my neighbors. I had dreams of a wonderful friendly neighborhood…but after 6 months we’ve not done more than wave and say hello from our driveways as we get in and out of our respective vehicles.


    • Stef says:

      Walking helps; but it still takes time (and quite a *lot* of effort) to make the local connections. But like wind or water wearing down a rock, I shall persevere… 😉


  6. Never heard of this before….I live in Texas so this explains why I had never heard of it in August, at least….it IS too hot….high of 107 expected here today and this isn’t even the hottest part of Texas that I live in. 😦


  7. I love this – wish we could do this here in Portugal


  8. What a great idea. 🙂
    We live n a block of flats with 15 other neighbours & I still see people I’ve never seen before.
    It’s important to have community.


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