How to Connect with Your Neighbours
From improved mental health and reduced stress to an increased sense of security, feeling like you are part of a vibrant, inclusive neighbourhood does wonders when it comes to quality of life.
“If you can develop some friendships in your community, all of a sudden that community becomes a heck of a lot nicer place to be,” says Arnie Stefaniuk, Vice President of Regional Planning at Genesis Land.
Indeed, at Genesis Land, we believe strongly that having good relationships with neighbours is key to really loving one’s community and feeling at home within it. And, while we make it our mission to plan and build communities that inspire inclusivity and camaraderie, there are a number of things that residents themselves can do to develop stronger connections with the people around them.
Here are six easy tips for meeting your neighbours, initiating conversations, strengthening neighbourly bonds and ultimately creating a friendlier, more resilient community.
Smile and wave
It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but it sure is effective. The simple act of waving and smiling to your neighbours lets them know you’re friendly and approachable, and it opens the door to getting to know them further.
Try to throw in some small talk now and then, too, if your neighbour is within earshot and seems open to a quick chat — over time, those brief exchanges about the weather, traffic or the last night’s game on TV can lead to more meaningful conversations.
When you see an opportunity to be of service in your neighbourhood, and you have the time and capacity to help, go for it. It could be as straightforward as mowing a neighbour’s lawn, shoveling snow from their driveway, offering to help unload groceries or — always a winner — bringing over freshly baked cookies or other treats.
Most people appreciate thoughtful gestures and will go out of their way to either reciprocate or say thank you. Over time, being of assistance can lead to deeper relationships and offers of support.
Go for daily walks
Not only is it a good form or exercise, walking around your neighbourhood is also one of the best ways to encounter members of your community and start building connections. Whether you’re strolling with your pet, your kids, your partner or opting for a solo jaunt, when you’re regularly out in the neighbourhood, you’re opening up opportunities for casual socializing.
Take the time to say hello to neighbours who are out in their yards or driveways, strike up a conversation with fellow walkers (especially if you notice that they go for regular walks, too) and introduce your kids (if they’re in tow) to other families you may encounter. The beauty of living in a Genesis Land community is that each one has an attractive and extensive pathway system that people are happy to use — so you’re bound to come across other individuals and families who enjoy being active and meeting up with their neighbours.
Ask for advice
Sometimes the best way to break the ice is by asking for a little neighbourly intel. Need a lead on a good mechanic or plumber? Ask one or two people on your block who they’d recommend. Looking for some gardening inspiration? If you see a neighbour outside tending to their colourful flower beds or prolific vegetable garden, don’t be afraid to pay them a compliment and then ask for tips.
The same goes for restaurant suggestions, babysitter recommendations or even just a tip on where to get the best cup of coffee nearby. Generally speaking, most people like to share their views and experiences, but no one wants to come off as opinionated or pushy. By asking your neighbours for their advice, you’re inviting them to tell their stories.
Make use of community amenities
Another great way to meet the people in your neighbourhood? Hang out in the places they like to go! Genesis Land communities feature a variety of amenities that residents love to get out and use on a regular basis, from thoughtfully designed parks and playgrounds to soccer fields, tennis courts, basketball courts and more.
Recreation centres or leisure facilities — including our namesake Genesis Centre in northeast Calgary and Genesis Place in Airdrie — are also worth frequenting, as these are places where families from surrounding neighbourhoods come together to take part in community sports, cultural programs or even just to spend an afternoon at the pool. The more you go, the more often you’ll spot familiar faces and bond over shared interests or activities.
Take part in neighbourhood events
Nothing brings neighbours together in larger groups quite like community-based activities and events. Whether it’s getting involved in community service projects like donation drives and neighbourhood cleanups, or attending events like pancake breakfasts and outdoor movie screenings, taking part in community activities pretty much guarantees you’ll get closer to your neighbours, because chances are high that the other people in attendance are trying to meet their neighbours, too.
If there are no planned events on the horizon, don’t be afraid to take the reins and organize something on your own. Ask a couple of neighbours you’ve already gotten to know if they want to help put together a community yard sale, a holiday cookie exchange or a good old-fashioned block party — just don’t forget to check into the kinds of permits you’ll need if you’re planning something big.
No matter how we choose to get to know our neighbours, when we take the time to connect with the people in our community, we’re helping to foster a healthier, happier and more welcoming place to live for everyone.