I have a good but casual relationship with many of my neighbors, especially since having a baby. Nothing encourages crossing the street or popping around the fence more readily than a fresh-out-of-the-womb infant! We chat about the weather and gardening and the baby, of course. We wave hello if we are in our cars. We occasionally lend one another implements like wheel barrows, and once, my neighbor Paul even took pity on our snowblower-less butts and plowed our driveway! And yet, there’s a closeness lacking that might be nice to have. If I needed a cup of sugar, I’d drive to the Stop & Shop rather than knock on a neighbor’s door.
With that in mind, I was intrigued by a post over at The Simple Dollar that explained how one could set up a simple neighborhood cooperative.
Household equipment Why not share a lawnmower with your neighbor? How about a snowblower? One great model for this exists in our neighborhood, where one person owns a snowblower and provides fuel for it, but is not in good enough physical shape to operate it. Thus, one of her neighbors actually operates the snowblower, using it to blow the snow out of both driveways (and often doing a large swath of the block’s entire sidewalk as well).
Gardening If two or three neighbors all have gardens, why not specialize the gardens and freely share the produce? This allows one family to focus specifically on a crop or two, making garden maintenance easier for all of the people involved. You can even carry this to the level of canning and/or freezing, agreeing to swap prepared garden products with neighbors.
There are other ideas in the post, though I’m not sure how readily I’d leave my baby with a neighbor or share cooking duties on a weekly basis. I would like to get to know my neighbors, however, as previous to this, I’ve been living in apartments for years and years. This was in the cheapest possible sections of Brooklyn, so there was a lot more wall banging and language barriers than friendly interaction. Now I’m curious to know how well you are acquainted with your neighbors.