Befriending Strangers, one neighbor at a time

Building community, one neighbor at a time

As the young lady held the door for me, I thanked her and observed that she must be a neighbor. Sure enough, we both ended up on the same floor. While we were in the elevator, I asked her: “So, how do you like it so far?” to which she replied “I like it so far but I have not met anybody of my neighbors yet”. I somewhat cynically answered: “Good luck with that!” but as I walked to my door I stopped and thought…

Sure, meeting neighbors is like pooling pulling people’s teeth (with no disrespect to my friendly dentist) but why should I mistake what seems difficult for impossible? In a different apartment building a few blocks away the elevator has a clever poster with a black stripe across the eyes of a person, warning: “Looking someone in the eyes might lead to a conversation!”

I suspect in our busy city people are weary of starting conversation with strangers because it could potentially demand time — the scarcest capital in the capital of the most abundant country. But what if that avoided conversation could introduce us to a gem we were searching for? What if starting a friendly conversation with a neighbors lead to a friendship?

So, here is what I did… I hastily put together a one page poster inviting my neighbors to the house concert with Alex Kruszewski (and sure enough I managed to misspell his name on it!), searched for the best price of color copies in Ballston, discovered that not surprisingly the good people in The Printed Page offer the best price for the fastest service, and within 30 min I had 80 copies of the invitation for each of the apartments in the building.

Whether anybody of my neighbors shows up or not, I trust that an open door and a friendly smile can help build community, one neighbor at a time.  So, which me luck… and talk to your neighbors!

P.S. Nothing like having a friendly editor to keep you on your spelling toes! I could not but share this priceless comment for this blog post which I received via email:

Hi friend!

Are you pooling, peeling, or pulling teeth?? lol
Gisela in Cochabamba, Bolivia

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