Some of my favorite books include the Mitford series by Jan Karon. Reading them is so comforting, and I often think that our world needs more people like the characters in those books: namely, people who make the time to be good neighbors.
I've got a lot to learn about being a good neighbor. But, here are some ways that I've been trying to live out the golden rule and help build community in our little neighborhood:
a) As I push the stroller on neighborhood walks, I smile and wave at anyone we happen to see outside. This small polite gesture - if done casually and not overdone -- seems to work wonders. People mowing their lawns wave back, dog walkers come over and introduce themselves, the rare porch sitter nods and waves.
b) I've welcomed new neighbors with hand-delivered baked goods, and introduced myself that way. Its been a great way to help new people feel welcome. Also, when I deliver it I let them know that I'm a homemaker; I specify that I am at home during the day in case they would ever need anything. Usually people are surprised by this. To me its a neat and hospitable way to let others know that full time homemaking exists, as well as to offer help if needed.
c) "Babies open many doors" my grandmother told me once. What she meant by this of course, is that most people sort of melt when they are near a clean, happy, well dressed, sweet smelling little baby. In the past months I have learned that this is entirely true, and the result is that waaaay more people stop and chat with my husband and I now that we tote around baby Elena. She imitates, as babies do, so now she waves to everyone she sees and is friendly just like I am.
These ways of being friendly have led to the establishment of all of my neighborhood acquaintances. Are these elaborate schemes, or complicated practices? No, they are not. I'm not pretending that these are new ideas, or even overly clever ones. But, these are simple ways to spread friendliness and neighborliness!
Monica over at The Homespun Heart has done some sweet and hospitable neighborliness projects over the years. Her blog is one of my favorite, maybe you would like it, too.