Today's New York Times op-ed, "Won't You Be My Neighbor," talks about one man's efforts to connect with his neighbors in a middle-class suburb of Rochester, NY.
Comments are closed, but they are worth reading. People from all over the US and from countries like Germany and India wrote in with their reflections and experiences in their neighborhoods, good and bad.
Here's the comment I was too late to add to the NYT site. I invite you to share your comments on the state of your neighborhood, too (especially if your neighborhood is my neighborhood!).
Thanks, Mr. Lovenheim, for your reflections on what it's like to make a conscious effort to get to know your neighbors in a time when most people don't bother. When I moved to my neighborhood four years ago, I was a single woman who knew one person on the block, in a rough Chicago neighborhood. I had to make friends fast. Online and phone friends are fine, but if you get hurt or your house gets broken into, they aren't going to be there to help you. If you know your next-door neighbors, you might have a chance.
Almost four years later, I'm good friends with about half a dozen families on the block, including my immediate neighbors on either side, and have a nodding acquaintance with many more. Because I happen to like kids, all their children are my good buddies now. I think it's been good for them to have a new grownup take an interest in them and I know it's been good for me to have their energy, curiosity and dogged efforts to win my attention in my life. (Even if that leaves me exhausted sometimes!)
One last observation--poster number 42 said New Orleans was the only town where a prostitute would be a valuable member of the neighborhood block watch. Well, here in Chicago, I haven't put my friend Dorothy to work on that yet (at least not officially), but yesterday she helped me entertain a group of children. Do retired prostitutes as babysitters count?
Please add your comments. I'm really interested to hear from readers about your experiences of your neighborhoods, wherever they are.