A com­mu­nity can make a dif­fer­ence

It’s about a feel­ing of be­long­ing and there are ways to im­prove that, says Erin Reilly.

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

All this talk of buy­ing houses (or not buy­ing houses, as the case may be) has got me think­ing about the con­cept of own­er­ship.

We hu­mans like to put our stamp on things. I think it helps us to feel suc­cess­ful, like ‘‘I’ve bought this house or Audi or iPhone 12 Plus, so that means I’m clock­ing life’’. We like to fill our homes with stuff that de­fines us, makes us feel suc­cess­ful, and helps us feel at home.

The con­cept of com­mu­nity is an in­ter­est­ing one too. A neigh­bour­hood or com­mu­nity isn’t a thing like a house, a car or an iPhone. It’s more an idea, a warm-fuzzy feel-good no­tion of be­long­ing. But to be a well­rounded mem­ber of our com­mu­ni­ties, I think we need to take own­er­ship of them too.

‘‘Tak­ing own­er­ship of our com­mu­nity’’ isn’t about ask­ing peo­ple to pay mem­ber­ship fees or re­quir­ing pass­ports to cross the bor­der into your street (al­though that could be a hi­lar­i­ous ac­tiv­ity for your kids to un­der­take next time they learn about pass­ports). It’s when you love your neigh­bour­hood so much that you’d bend over back­wards to look af­ter it and the peo­ple who live in it.

So what does ‘‘tak­ing own­er­ship of our com­mu­nity’’ look like in prac­tise? Pri­mar­ily it’s about open­ing our eyes and notic­ing things out­side the norm. When your neigh­bour’s let­ter­box is over­flow­ing, knock on the door and check that they’re OK.

When you spot a suspicious car driv­ing up and down your street, jot down the num­ber plate and call the po­lice. When your chil­dren’s school is fundrais­ing for a new swim­ming pool, vol­un­teer at sausage siz­zles, cake stalls and movie nights (or at the very least buy hot dogs, cook­ies and movie tick­ets).

And when your gut­ters and berms are sprin­kled with rub­bish, or­gan­ise a Great Com­mu­nity Clean Up – an event put to­gether by Neigh­bourly and The Ware­house. It could be as sim­ple as pick­ing up lit­ter in your street, tidy­ing up your favourite park, or re­mov­ing stuff that shouldn’t be there from a nearby beach.

Of course, un­der­stand­ing your com­mu­nity is much eas­ier to do when you ac­tu­ally know the peo­ple who live there. Get­ting to know your neigh­bours starts with a sim­ple ‘‘Hello’’ when you see them over the fence, or hang­ing around af­ter school pick-ups and chat­ting with other par­ents.

Host­ing, or­gan­is­ing or at­tend­ing a street event once a term is also a great way to stay con­nected with neigh­bours, not to men­tion en­cour­ag­ing new­bies to your area to get to meet new peo­ple too.

Tak­ing own­er­ship of our com­mu­nity starts with just one per­son, but the more hands that get in­volved, the more of a dif­fer­ence you can make. For more in­for­ma­tion about the 2017 Great Com­mu­nity Clean Up, visit neigh­bourly.co.nz/great­com­mu­ni­ty­cleanup.

A Great Com­mu­nity Clean Up event like this one in Pe­tone last year is a great way to im­prove your neigh­bour­hood.

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