Why 100 Neighbors?
Many of us live in our own protective silos. We tend to be isolated from our local communities, instead choosing to engage through social media platforms. While social media is a powerful tool, it is a much more enriching experience to get to know people face to face. We believe that forming strong communities of 100 people across the nation will bring to fruition a more understanding, helpful, and nurturing environment. The ultimate goal is to create communities free of fear and awkwardness and full of awesomeness and fun.
We had no idea how big the number 100 actually is until we first began meeting our neighbors. Ultimately, the number 100 stuck because it is rather catchy, but the purpose of the project is to create meaningful relationships and experiences. The project is not meant to be a race to meeting 100 people without any real connections being made. You know you’re doing this project correctly if you feel that the ethos of your community is slowly changing and you feel a change within yourself as well.
Here is an example of the project we started in West Hartford Ct. a few years ago: http://westhartford.100neighbors.org/
But I don’t know any of my neighbors right now…
That is totally ok, and why this project is needed in your town.
How do I begin?
There are many different models and there will definitely be a learning curve since each community is different. One of the best suggestions that we can offer is to not get upset when your model doesn’t meet with immediate success. Remember, this is a new project for everyone and change is often met with resistance. Below are a few models that may or may not work for you, but continue to help us along our journey.
Once you get to know someone, kindly ask them to take a selfie with you and upload that picture to Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/etc with the hashtags #100Neighbors. The #100Neighbors hashtag is very important, as it will inspire others in your social network to get to know the project and potentially do their own 100 neighbors.
- Start off small and invite one or two people/families over for a casual meeting at your place, introduce the idea, and be sincere about really getting to know people.
- Write a letter that introduces the idea and leave it in peoples’ mailboxes. That way, they know to expect someone that is friendly and not someone who is trying to sell them something. This allows people to mentally prepare for the encounter as opposed to being caught off-guard.
- If the weather permits, invite people to an outside bbq, leaving flyers in their mailboxes. You can request that each person brings a dish and ask that they rsvp to a community bbq email address.
- There may be a lot of kids in your neighborhood. You may have kids yourself. Kids are one of the best icebreakers, see if it a possibility to establish a playgroup for your neighborhood.
- Be sure to smile. Smiling is one of the easiest ways to get people to open up to you.
- Simply knock on someone’s door and introduce yourself as their neighbor. You might want to bring a small gift, such as brownies or fresh fruit.
- Be creative, have fun, and don’t get discouraged. There is no time limit for you to reach your target, but the point is to establish a community that is there for one another.
What if people say no?
- This is to be expected, so don’t let it get you down. A lot of “nos” in a row can feel very discouraging, and it is ok if you want to take a break from the project for a while. The first thing to keep in mind is that the project requires a lot of “sticktoitive-ness.” However, we promise, that with persistence and patience you will start seeing the fruits of your hard work. If they say no, there are many other neighbors for you to get to know, and remember that you will not become friends with every single neighbor that you meet, and that is ok. Thank them for their time and wish them a nice day. No matter what, kindness begets kindness.
Once you have met a few of your neighbors, start planning monthly brunches, outings in the park, or even start a book club. Each group will decide what is best for them, but the idea is to create and foster community which means that these relationships will require some type of nurturing. When people talk, misconceptions get shattered and understanding permeates the mind. We are working to create a nation of understanding people who respect one another despite their differences.
Good luck, and don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.
A Little More Info:
A Pew Internet Report taken in June of 2010 found that only 24% of Americans knew their neighbors’ names. Even with all the social networks around, we are physically isolating ourselves from people, which is pretty frightening. Humans are meant to interact with other humans, and not just through the internet portal. In our current reality, it is perfectly fine to share Facebook statuses and tweets to complete strangers, letting go of our privacy and delving into our personal lives, while at the same time not knowing who our neighbors are. We want to offer an alternative, a community, and we need your help.
When the first snowfall of winter hit Connecticut in 2011 there was a woman (a neighbor of ours) outside the apartment parking lot standing by her car which was clearly stuck in the snow. My wife saw her walk back and forth helplessly trying to figure out what to do. Had she not seen her and told me about the situation, I would not have been able to go outside and help. If we were a stronger community, she would not have felt awkward or uncomfortable knocking on our door and asking for some assistance.
We pray this project is of benefit to all involved and will be a positive example of what can happen when people simply choose to talk to one another and break the silence with a nice “Hello.”
Who We Are:
We’re Ahmed and Marwa and we recently moved to the Bay Area. Ahmed is an app developer, a runner, and loves making documentaries on the side. You will probably find Marwa at the playground avoiding her two rambunctious childrenMarwa enjoys making chocolate chip cookies, California, and meeting other playground junkie mamas.
Join us as we get to know one another, share our stories, lend over our shovels, and have lots of fun in the process.