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Neighborly Kindness

March 6, 2017 - Tiffany Larson
As I drive home each day, I instantly flash back to childhood. A flood of memories rush through my mind; riding Bus #11 with Barb at the wheel, plotting ways to make my saxophone lessons shorter so I can call the girls down the road over to play, or coming up with silly cheers with the cousins to perform on the old cement slab at my Aunt's across the road. I love being able to live in the neighborhood in which I grew up; in the house that I was raised. These memories with my neighbors are ones that I cherish always. These memories and conversations with people of various ages have had me pondering about relationships with others, especially neighbors. I can't help but wonder if others engage with people in their neighborhood? Do others recall such fond memories? Is it different for town kids than country kids? I have been fortunate to have had pretty awesome neighbors over the years. Growing up in the country, I remember considering my neighbors to be those that pretty much lived in an eight mile or so radius. I was lucky to have my relatives across the road and just around the corner. The families on our highway had children around the same age, which was an added perk. Even babysitters were easy to round up in our neck of the woods. I even recall pony rides in our front yard by one that I remain in contact with today. The summer before my senior year we moved. Our house sat on a gravel road with minimal houses surrounding it. We were older, and play dates were replaced with trips to Webster City for sports and other extra curricular activities. Although there weren’t children around the same age, our family of neighbors grew. Following graduation I moved to a new community. For the most part the neighbors kept to themselves, but were always cordial when I gave a wave or a friendly hello. When I returned to Webster City in 2008, I moved into an apartment building. Below me lived a mom and her son. Our schedules were never in sync, but I appreciated days I got to sit outside and laugh with her youngster playing swords or whatever new toy he had picked out. I always love bumping into them in town and getting updates on how they are doing. Prior to moving back into my childhood home, I lived in a quiet neighborhood. I didn’t necessarily know the names of my neighbors, but everyone was friendly. My yard seemed to be the hot spot for kiddos to play. It didn’t bother me, as I was rarely home. It broke my heart that the last few days leading up to my big move were the most I had talked to my neighbors across the street. I regret not making a bigger effort to connect sooner. This past June a few ladies from the neighborhood decided to put together a picnic. I can't take credit for the idea, as it was their brainstorm to help connect those that live in the houses we drive by each and every day. Those from Cass Township, and whomever else wanted to join, were invited out to Kendall Young Park for food and fellowship. I hope to see more of these outings planned in the future. It was great listening to stories of those that have lived in the area for years, and those that are new.

When asking youth in the tri-county area to share whom they consider to be approachable or trusted adults in their life, some instantly shared parents and caregivers, but some struggled. When I gave them options such as teachers, coaches, and relatives some nodded affirmatively. When I asked about neighbors, less agreed. This pulled on my heart strings. It made me think that gone are the good old days, the days of knowing our neighbors. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around people not knowing those living next door, down the road, or even a mile or so away. I would like to be optimistic in hoping that face-to-face communication is not a lost art, and that our busy every day lives and social media have not replaced our community connections. I know that through an informal poll I recently posted on social media, that some people do know their neighbors. In fact, I was pleased to hear that some hold block parties, get togethers, and have their kids play together. With Spring around the corner I encourage all of you to join me in reaching out and connecting more. Whether a friendly hello to your neighbor, holding a picnic, or inviting them over for a meal. Practice Random Acts of Kindness will increase our community connectedness.

We can reach out and make a new friend, and make sure to welcome new people to our neighborhoods. Together we can do our part in helping build our Webster City area.


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