We moved into our new neighborhood just over a year ago. Our neighborhood is age-diverse:
Families in the same season as us. Of course we are glad that we have a handful of other kids for ours to play with, I love watching them run in a pack from yard to yard for hours on end.
Families that are a little further along with middle/ high schoolers. This means babysitters-BONUS!
The empty nested or retired neighbors. We treasure them, always checking in and helping us young pups out.
We met our closest retired neighbors right when we moved in, the husband making the rounds nearly every day checking in with each family on our end of the block. In the beginning he shared that his wife was unable to be outside very often because she had a long list of health issues. Last fall we were able to chat with her twice, but that was it. She loves watching the kids play from her windows and I know her husband reports the neighborhood-doings back to her each day.
I noticed that our kids were a bit nervous around her and asked a lot of questions about why she couldn't come outside. I had a vision in my mind of all the 80s flicks that had a house on the block with a lady that never came outside and all of the stories kids made up, most of them not very pleasant or accurate. I knew she couldn't eat items we baked so I spent a week thinking hard about how we could connect with our neighbor given the circumstances. And then BAM the idea dropped from the sky into my mind... The Mail Trail.
We'll buy a notebook, a little mini mailbox and become neighbor pen pals. This will involve the kids and give us all a chance to get to know each other. I shared the idea with the boys and they loved it. We shopped for the perfect mailbox (Joanns!) and notebook, wrapped it up and dropped it off on her doorstep. We instructed the husband to mount it on the back deck and when there was mail, to put the flag up so we knew to retrieve it. We would do the same when we made a drop.
The boys would watch carefully as we drove down our street to see if the flag was up and when it was, oh boy, the screaming and race to get the notebook was loud and fast.
Pretty soon it started to snow. A lot. The drifts were starting to get too high for our boys to trudge through and the husband noticed that the mail was stuck. Each and every snow fall, he would shovel or plow a mail trail to ensure mail delivery and retrieval could happen. We would send art and letters, they would send letters, dino pictures and facts. The boys would tell them about their days and she would write about hers and ask a lot of questions.
It really has been a great way to connect for all of us! The husband just told me yesterday that he has big plans for the Mail Trail this year, I have no doubt that it will be something special and fun! Ultimately, it was feeling that nudge, and following through.
In the grand scheme of things, observing and feeling a nudge are pretty low-risk, both being mostly internal. But follow through is where the rubber hits the road. This is where things get risky because it involves other people and putting ourselves *out there.*
Who in your neighborhood has circumstances that make it tricky to connect? What nudges have you felt? For some, you could follow suit and gift a mail box or maybe you could offer to run errands for them or help with driving to doctor appointments. We'd love to hear other things that you have done to connect in your neighborhood!
Jill works in construction at Hagstrom Builder as the marketing coordinator, executive assistant and project manager. Jill is a people enthusiast and connector! Recently she founded Small Things With Great Love, a Facebook community that is designed to provide encouragement and ideas to love our neighbor. Join her community today! Jill is married with 3 kiddos and lives in the Twin Cities.