I live in a suburb outside of Seattle. Back in the day this wasn’t a suburb, it was a thriving city of its own but over time, as Seattle grew and urbanization continued year after year, this city was swallowed by that urbanization. Now there is no discernible boundary between cities in this area. It’s just more streets and more homes and more businesses and the only change is really the density as you get closer to Seattle. As we’ve urbanized as a society we’ve lost the connection with our neighbors, what I refer to here as my “community”. We may have drifted but your community needs you too.
The fundamental reason we don’t know our neighbors anymore is that we’re not restricted to them for work and social interaction. I work for Expedia more than 10 miles away from my home. My social interaction isn’t near my home either, for example:
- I interact with social groups all over the world, online
- My friends at work come together in Bellevue, near the office
- My family are scattered across the Seattle metro area
None of those three include my neighbors or neighborhood and out of the 400 homes within a half mile of mine I only really know the people who live in 8 of them.
The unfortunate consequence of this lack of connection with my neighbors is that things happen every day that I could help with, that I might benefit from, that might hurt me, or that I can help take to the next level, but I don’t know about them. As someone who focuses on execution every single day I have a lot to offer my local community.
In this video I refer to a drug deal occurring in my community, near my home. There are countless other examples of the good and the could-be-better as well. I have a neighbor who needs his gutters cleaned but he can no longer do it and so, in just 30 minutes of my time, I can make a significant contribution to my community. Another family has recently had a new baby and I know as a father myself that they could use some help with little things, like making sure their garbage can is at the street on garbage day… a 2 minute assist. All this goodwill goes places.
Every day I focus on execution on my marriage, my family, my work, and my self. Doing these things I am a very successful person and I can get a lot done in a day. If I put some time in to my community each week I get a whole other set of benefits outside of the effort I can exert myself. It’s the benefit of the community I am a part of.
The key idea I’m trying to present to you is:
Your community is worth your time and attention; your community needs you too!
A couple years ago Jessica and I were frustrated that the only people we knew were those from our four immediate neighbors. We didn’t know anyone beyond that group. We decided to do a big thing to work to change it by starting a Neighborhood Association. Where we live the Neighborhood Association is a product of the local city government where we have an elevated status with the city, we can apply for grants, we more easily access city resources, and we have an assigned city staff member who acts as our liaison. This gives us a boost of resources and knowledge that we can use to improve our community.
Some of the accomplishments of the Neighborhood include a newsletter, a bus stop for school kids, and an annual summer picnic. These help alert everyone to what is going on in the community and to bring the community together to meet one another. Our goal is to meet more of our neighbors but the bigger goal is to help our neighbors get to know each other so that the entire community benefits.
Take a minute and think about your community.
What are three small things that could be better? Write them down. Now, what could you do to try to improve those three small things? Write them down too.
Momentum in your marriage, in your family, in your work, and in your self starts with an initial effort and then a constant push in the right direction. Changing your community starts in exactly the same way. When you get started with something easy you build momentum and with a little consistency, with ongoing push in the right direction, you will be amazed at how far you and your community has come.
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