Transforming Existing Neighborhoods – Part One

Neighbors transform their street and enjoy getting to know each other during regular “block parties.”

Finding a place where you can “age in community” is challenging especially if you love where you currently live and don’t want to move. A viable option is to direct your energy into converting your existing neighborhood into more of a community.

Creating more connections with your current neighbors has both advantages and disadvantages. Advantages: you’re staying in your home while you work towards transforming your existing neighborhood. And you’ll have the pleasure – hopefully this will be a positive experience – of getting to know the people on your block and starting to do things together.

Disadvantages: as compared to creating a shared Golden Girls-like home or a cohousing  neighborhood, bringing community to an existing neighborhood is the path that will take the most time. Second, you don’t have control over whom your neighbors will be. Third, this model will require an increased level of leadership not needed in the other two models where leadership is shared.

An excellent resource is the book Superbia! 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods by Dave Wann. This book guides the reader on how to remake suburban and urban neighborhoods to better serve people reduce human impact on the environment.

Dave provides practical suggestions on how to transform typical suburban neighborhoods to better meet people’s needs. Ideas range from the simple, like creating a neighborhood newsletter to foster a sense of neighborhood identity and cooperation, to regular community dinners, discussion groups, and babysitting co-ops, to more complex actions, such as removing backyard fences to create park-like spaces for community play areas and gardens.

In next week’s blog, I’ll share the personal qualities that will help you be successful in creating community in an existing neighborhood. Please contact me for how to get started.

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