Cue Mister Rogers - then follow steps 2, 3, 4, and 5...
November 17, 2008 5:09 PM   Subscribe

Want to be a good neighbor but don't know how? Now there are checklists! (Chicago and SF focus) posted by puckish (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No "Stay off Lawn?"

Can't take it seriously.
posted by jonmc at 5:26 PM on November 17, 2008

Good deeds? I've got salvation by faith, tyvm.
posted by mullingitover at 5:38 PM on November 17, 2008

Call out your neighbors for comments or behavior that perpetuates limiting stereotypes.

You know, this is the kind of PC holier-than-thou claptrap that gives liberals a bad name. What makes good neighbors is precisely not calling people out for saying things that you don't agree with - its engaging in the long, slow, patient, often maddening process of getting to know them on their own terms without pigeonholing them as bigots from the get-go. I can't think of worse advice for how to be a good neighbor.
posted by googly at 5:46 PM on November 17, 2008 [9 favorites]

Most of my discussions about gentrification have been in the vein of how I can speed it up to improve the value of my house. And hopefully get nicer restaurants as a side-effect.
posted by GuyZero at 5:47 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

Gentrify before they multiply.
posted by gman at 5:53 PM on November 17, 2008

GuyZero writes "Most of my discussions about gentrification have been in the vein of how I can speed it up to improve the value of my house. And hopefully get nicer restaurants as a side-effect."

Here in the (formerly scary crime-ridden, now hipstery) North Hollywood Arts District my biggest problem with gentrification is deciding if it's just awesome, or totally sweet.
posted by mullingitover at 5:54 PM on November 17, 2008

Yeah...pushing poor people away from the center of the city is awesome. I am, by the way, very conflicted about gentrification. I live in a neighborhood that is quickly gentrifying right now (surprise!), and though it's great for me, it's rough on the people who have always lived here.
posted by nosila at 5:57 PM on November 17, 2008

pushing poor people away from the center of the city is awesome.

I don't think gentrification is any more to blame for this than the mass exodus of businesses to suburban industrial parks. Maybe if some of those jobs came back to the central business districts the poor would stand a chance of remaining where they are.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:06 PM on November 17, 2008

I think you're right, kuujjuarapik. My response was definitely a kneejerk reaction to the prior comments, which, as I said, I halfway agree with.

I also agree with the "7 Rules..." from the post that it's important to be specific if you're going to have a fruitful conversation about gentrification, as the details, involvements and implications vary widely from place to place.
posted by nosila at 7:08 PM on November 17, 2008

In Seattle, at least, the reason that many city neighborhoods gentrify is that businesses are moving back in to the city core. Why? Because the neighborhoods are pleasant to live in (in spite of being crime-ridden, in some cases). If a business is trying to attract high-value employees, one of the big things they can offer those employees is not having to live in, or commute to, the sprawling lifeless exurb.

(And when they gentrify, the interesting restaurants get pushed out and replaced by two Starbucks, a Quiznos, and a bunch of cookie-cutter clothing boutiques. None of which would be that bad if they didn't displace the things that attracted people to that neighborhood in the first place.)
posted by hattifattener at 7:14 PM on November 17, 2008

Pick up trash and shovel snow in front of your house.

I grew up in Missoula Montana. It would snow every winter. Shoveling the walk was considered responsible human behavior by everyone. We lived near the University, so sometimes the snow would be compacted by student pedestrians before we could get to it, making it more difficult to shovel. But we always did.

Failure to shovel snow from a sidewalk is more than just an irritant, it poses a genuine hazard, especially for the elderly or physically disabled.

Before becoming a lawyer, my father had worked in the mines in Butte, and so would sometimes equate "shoveling" with "mucking", which is removal of pulverized rock with a shovel. He taught me how to shovel both right and left handed.

By the time I got to high school, I began to notice a pattern. I would walk the same route, on the same sidewalks, every day I went to school for four years. My route included the sidewalks of several fraternities and sororities.

In all those years of walking, ONLY the fraternities and sororities would constantly fail to shovel their sidewalks. Chock full of young people in the prime of life, supposedly gathered together to foster and develop responsible adult human behavior, no one ever performed this fundamental task.

God, I hated those bastards...
posted by Tube at 11:30 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Failure to shovel snow from a sidewalk is more than just an irritant, it poses a genuine hazard, especially for the elderly or physically disabled.

Where I grew up failing to shovel your sidewalk was actually a crime. Never enforced but it was on the books. But then I am pinko commie Canadian.

To be nice you had to shovel your neighbour's sidewalk since shoveling your own was expected.

I find there is a a fine line with getting to know one's neighbours. It is like living with friends. The idea sounds cool until they start saying "Oh we're friends, they won't mind".
posted by srboisvert at 3:22 AM on November 18, 2008

Take a neighbor on a joyride to watch a suave lip synch of “In Dreams.” How: Lumberton
posted by Smedleyman at 6:29 AM on November 18, 2008

I just got drafted to be on my mostly absentee condo board, so these ideas look like a good place to start with.
posted by garlic at 6:36 AM on November 18, 2008

# Say hi to your neighbors.

What? No. I'm busy.

# Walk, bike and take the train or bus (cabs qualify). Get rid of your car if you have one, unless you absolutely need it.

I ride the subway just like everyone else, so yay me, apparently.

# Shop locally.

How local? Cause I can't really afford anything here.

# Tip your cab driver extra for driving safely.

No no no no. You tip for getting there fast. Of course, I'd always tip well because just getting in a cab means it's a special event.

# Call out your neighbors for comments or behavior that perpetuates limiting stereotypes.

"I just wish we weren't surrounded by such lumbering Swedes." "Actually Bob, Swedes range in size from very short to very large" "I had no idea! thanks Centron!"

# Jog in the street if the sidewalks are crowded.

This is an excellent way to get run over. The streets, and the sidewalks for that matter, are not jogging paths.

# Don’t automatically fight against the opening of a homeless shelter or drug recovery clinic in your neighborhood.

Um, okay.

# Curb your dog.

Or just don't own one in a crowded urban environment! Problem solved!

# Be open to new architecture.

No. No. No. NO. It's a "historic district" for a reason. Cause we've all decided that knocking down old buildings to put up paper-thin glass filing cabinets helps no one but the building company owners. And they don't even live here. They live in Westport.
posted by The Whelk at 6:51 AM on November 18, 2008

Most of this boils down to being visible and involved. I mean, the actual details are kind of meh, but generally speaking, that's not bad advice.
Unless you don't want to be involved or visible.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:49 AM on November 18, 2008

while i understand that it makes sense (esp. for a certain kind of liberal) to send your kids to neighborhood schools, in many places, these have become stultifying monoliths that are not really about the neighborhood, and more about being a place to keep the kids while the parents work long hours.

walking is good. taking the bus is good. saying hi to your neighbors is good. fixing up your house--we're working on it. but the best thing we've done for our neighborhood's health and life is by getting together with four other families very close by who have kids of around the same age, and forming a homeschool co-op. suddenly our neighborhood has become beautifully old fashioned, with kids biking to each other's houses all hours of the day and night, building forts/treehouses in the woods, and playing D&D at the neighborhood game shop. one mom sponsors an afternoon of making piñatas, while another takes them on bike trails, and another leads them through local history via a scavenger hunt.

staying home is what brings neighborhoods back to life. staying home (or working nearby) and sending kids over to each other's houses and baking all day (while also working) and putting out plates of cookies... it's all very old-fashioned and domestic. but it's heaven for the kids. and heaven for the rest of us, too.

(and all about getting back to basics: no more spending money foolishly. nor more buying things we can make ourselves or learn to make ourselves. right now, i'm baking a loaf of bread, boiling down the vegetable scraps for veggie broth, and planning "soup night". homeschooled kid watched a couple short (commercial-free) documentaries on Ho Chi Minh, the Ottoman Empire and the physics of atl-atls. we'll read a chapter of the Odyssey together later, and then we'll do a unit of 7th grade math. after he and his buddies finish their list of classwork, they'll get together for some running around outside. life is good.)
posted by RedEmma at 9:34 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

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