That’s right, Neighborday. Neighbor Day if you’re not so much into word mash-ups or German language style compound words. (Gesamtkunstwerk, anyone?) I was first alerted to it on good.is when I read this article. Since then I’ve seen and read more about it here, here and here. Yes, it’s a made up holiday and depending on who’s you subscribe to, the dates can be spread widely across the calendar. But according to those with the power to declare such things, the last Saturday in April, this year Saturday, April 27, has been dubbed unofficially officially Neighborday.
Quoting now, “Today, our definition of community is changing. A majority of American adults don’t know their neighbors by name though most are on Facebook. American children play more online than play outside. And while the internet age, has brought unprecedented access to information, networks, and commerce, it’s unclear if it has brought us closer or has in fact further isolated us. And its not just Americans. In emerging economies, where modernity often means individualism, the pursuit of The American Dream is alive and well on television and iPhone screens from Shanghai to São Paulo. This trend towards American-style materialism and individualism is alarming to religious leaders and environmentalists alike. “We don’t need each other for anything anymore,” notes Bill McKibben. “If we have enough money, we’re insulated from depending on those around us—which is at least as much a loss as a gain.” Is it possible that in the exhaustive pursuit of individual happiness, in the creation of our own story, that we’ve forgotten our shared story, that we’ve forgotten everyone else?
Neighborday is about creating a new story. It’s about transcending the old story of self to create a new story of us. It’s about expanding our definition of self to include those who live above us, below us, and next to us. It’s a call to action of the most important kind: to let our neighbors in, and to build more self-reliant streets, blocks, and neighborhoods, together. “But to be authentic,” farmer and poet Wendell Berry reminds us, “this revival would have to be accomplished mainly by the community itself. It would have to be done not from the outside, but from the inside, by the ancient rule of neighborliness, by the love of precious things, and by the wish to be home.” (end quote)
I like this idea, as it promotes togetherness, and a sense of community. Sort of a Small Business Saturday for communities and neighborhoods. Not that we need to go all Pleasantville or wax nostalgic for the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ ‘My Three Sons,’ or ‘Happy Days,’ but I dare say, it is nice to know your neighbors.
So mark your calendar (you know, the one actually tacked up on the wall near your land line phone) for the last Saturday in April. Take some time and do something nice for your neighbors. Knock-knock next door and deliver a plate of homemade cookies. Introduce yourself. Maybe tell them about the frisbee you can see on their roof from your second-story bedroom window. Exchange phone numbers, emergency contacts, a recipe perhaps. Ask about the signs in their yard. Or what they pay their gardeners – if their lawn looks better than yours.
If you already know all your neighbors or are the president of your (not overbearing at all) HOA organize a cook-out or scavenger hunt or do something fun like this. Inspiration, ideas and help organizing your Neighborday event can be found here.
Whatever it is, take the opportunity to connect with real people in the real world. Keep your cell phone in your pocket and engage those nearest to you – your neighbors.