Creating community is easier than you think.Posted: February 12, 2010
Is it just me or, is the modern urban neighborhood getting remarkably old-fashioned? In the Los Feliz (locals pronounce this los-FEE-liz) community of Los Angeles where I live, it feels like everything that was old is new (and smart) again. Things my grandparents in Kentucky have always done—checking in on neighbors, sharing a new crop of tomatoes—seem not so much folksy as generally just a good way to live, even if you are in the big city.
1.Turn your front yard into a farm.
Grass is an expensive, water-intensive waste of space. Rip out the sod and start a small front yard farm to produce food for your household and some of your favorite neighbors. Sounds daunting (or don’t have a yard)? Organize some other like-minded urban agrarians and transform a vacant lot into a community garden. You may even get a tax credit.
2. Make every Sunday a block party.
Sundays are lazy time, and the worldwide movement Ciclovia has taken advantage of our weekend sloth. “There’s less traffic on Sunday,” says Tim Joe Linton, one of the organizers of cicLAvia an initiative to bring the car free days to the car capital of the world. Aside from the obvious benefits of music and picnics in the street, letting the bikes take over can be a boon to the local economy. “Many local shops see their business double,” Linton says.
3. Throw a potluck with your neighbors.
All of them. This may mean inviting people you may not know, like, or otherwise find interesting, but that’s what makes this fun: everyone is invited. If you want to ,add some entertainment.
4. Install a bench in front of your house (and create other types of informal public spaces).
Temporary dog parks, hop scotch zones, and dumpster pools work too.
5. Say hi to your neighbors.
Now that one’s not so hard, is it?
Here’s to dynamic neighborhoods, smarter communities, and the treehouse making a comeback. How are you breathing life back into your neighborhood?