Here’s a blog post from “One Green Generation” about community building that offers a specific suggestion: Say Hello To 5 Strangers Today. I’ve pasted part of the post and a few of the comments here. The consistent point, as you’ll see, is that we have lost a sense of community that used to exist as a part of daily life. I agree that we can make a difference by changing how we behave in small ways (I’ve been experimenting, and will write about that soon), and there are regional and national variations to take into account. New Englanders seem very cold to people from the south. In my own neighborhood, the challenge is not to say hello to strangers but to get to know the people next door a little better! Here’s the post:

Because in the last several decades we have grown cold and disparate as a culture.† We donít say hello to strangers anymore, we donít participate in local events as much anymore, our children donít play out in the streets together anymore, we hesitate to help one another because we donít have time anymore.

But have you walked down the street lately, and had a stranger say hello?† It feels good and brings you two people together for a moment.

Generally that feeling lasts a few seconds, maybe a few minutes, occasionally a few hours or if itís really special, the whole day.† The next thing you know, you† are spreading that feeling of closeness to others Ė maybe you say hello to someone too!† And that person may then stop into a local store and find themselves chatting with a local shop owner.† And the shop owner, feeling close to his customers, may find a way to give back to the community in some way.† And those who are touched by the shop ownerís giving back are more likely to give time, help, or conversations to someone else.

Your simple ďhelloĒ has changed the dynamic of the neighborhood, creating a positive cycle where more and more people become closer to one another.

It takes time, but it also starts somewhere.† So letís start somewhere simple.† This weekend, letís each of us come out of our shells and Say Hello To Five Strangers.

By , on April 30th, 2010 | Category: Community-building, Living Locally | Subscribe to Comments |

16 comments to Say Hello To 5 Strangers Today

  • Wendy House

    I take on your challenge Ė what an awesome idea. I am going camping on the beach over the long weekend so I might not see 5 people in a day and it is sort of cheating while away on the beach as everyone is usually so friendly. So I will challenge myself to continue this over the coming week.

    I am currently just going with the flow and trying to allow ideas to come to me on what I can share and how I can share whatever knowledge I have within my community. I wrote on my blog recently about how I want certain things out of my community and the fact that those things arenít supplied by others gives me more reason to get of my butt and try and start those things myself.

    Anyway thanks for the great post,

    Wendy

  • Can do. Of course Iím one of those strange people who make eye contact and say hello or smile as I walk by people. ūüôā I have to say that I always find it interesting who will respondÖ.

  • Erin aka Conscious Shopper

    Ha, you definitely donít live in the South. I canít make it through the day without talking to strangers. Or being stopped for five minutes while some old lady tells me all about her grandkids. Iím not complaining Ė I love it! But what I really need to work on is getting to know my neighbors better.

  • I love this post! Iím always saying hi and being extra nice to people who I interact with (the folks at the post office, grocery store, etc.). But then again, Iím not shy. I wonder if shy people have a harder time with this?

  • ALM

    Iím in. All five will be done by 10 a.m. tomorrow morning, because it will be easy to do at the new little farmers market being held in our town square.

  • To answer Tiffany- yes it is harder for shy people to do. I much prefer taking a long time before I speak to strangers. Strangers scare me!!!

  • Great post, and itís so important. ďRealĒ community doesnít happen over Facebook, or even these blogs (as much as we hate to admit it). Itís about developing tangible relationships with one another. Even if it hurts to take the first step!

  • This is a very regional thing. When we lived outside of Seattle for 10 years there were people on our street who never left the house, and when we would walk in the evenings wouldnít say more than hi. When we moved back to the south we moved to a similar suburban neighborhood, and had people knocking within hours of the moving truck showing up, and kids running through our house ďhelpingĒ to unpack. When our daughter was ill and in the hospital we had neighbors we only knew in passing mowing our yard, and bringing us meals. Sadly it took 9/11 in Seattle for people at my work to realize they didnít know the people on the street they lived on for years. I always thought it sad, as a southerner, that it took such a tragedy to bring folks together, and it was eye-opening to see the difference when we moved back to the south 9 months later. Iíll take on your challenge, we need community.