My neighbour's guide to being neighbourly

Robert Munsch.jpg

Our neighbour has seen a lot of change in this neighbourhood over her five decades of living here - farmer's fields have turned into subdivisions and a high school; the expressway was built; two two-way streets have each become one-way streets; Towers turned into a Zellers which turned into a Wal-mart. Admittedly, I'd never heard of Towers. My earliest memories are of Woolco and the many bright red and blue Icees I consumed from there. Another change she has seen mirrors a quotation Warnick included in this month's chapter: 

"being neighborly [in the mid 20th century] meant reaching out to the people who lived next door...over the years, however, the term came to denote almost exactly the opposite. Today, being 'neighborly' means leaving those around you in peace...The sense of warmth once suggested by the term...has been replaced by a kind of detachment" (p. 71).

After I read this month's chapter, I wanted to know what my neighbour, who, by definition, is mid-20th century neighbourly, thinks being a good neighbour means. 

For her, it's pretty simple:

  • Say hi.

  • Help others, especially if you see they're in trouble, but first ask if they'd like your help. If they say no, respect that.

  • Go out of your way to help them - shovel their driveway; offer them extra chocolates you bought, especially if it looks like they're having a tough day.

  • Be generous. For us, this has meant that she has single handedly gifted our kid nearly his whole Robert Munsch storybook collection.

Similar to her mom, who also lived in this neighbourhood, my neighbour loves where she lives because there are walking trails close, shopping that is close, and there are good schools. Mostly, though, she described her love for her neighbourhood as something intangible: "it's my home", she explained, it's like"that feeling you get when you go away on a trip and come home and feel happy because you know you're home".  And I swear didn't even mention to her that I get that same feeling and I know she didn't read my blog post stating something similar!

What does being neighbourly mean to you? Have you been the giver or receiver of acts of neighbourliness and if so, what were they?

This post was originally posted on jenvasic.ca in February 2018 as part of a chapter-by-chapter review of the book “This is where you belong: Finding home wherever you are.” That website no longer exists, but I have migrated the posts here

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