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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Know Your Neighbors

In one of my earlier incarnations, I was a member of the Sheriff's Explorers, a group of Boy Scouts who worked alongside Sheriff's deputies to make the world a better place.

I worked closest with a real mentor, Deputy Digby Rowe of the Community Crime Prevention Bureau. We gave talks to people on how best to protect their homes.

And can you guess what the number one suggestion was? Better than alarms, locks, dogs, and lighting?

It was knowing your neighbors, and looking out for each other.

For most of my time in China, I've been surrounded by neighbors who spoke little or no English, and I speak little (almost no) Chinese.

There have been lots of smiles, and kindnesses done. But it hasn't really been possible to know my neighbors in any real sense.

Now, I'm living back in a school dorm, where most of my "neighbors" are in fact my colleagues. And it's good to know that if I ever walk out without both my keys and my phone, I can knock on any one of a number of doors and get connected with building maintenance through a neighbor.

Not to mention just hanging out in someone's doorway for a chat.

So go knock on the doors on either side of you, and across from you. Anybody that shares a fence (including the people behind you, on the next block). Anyone that shares an eyeline. Get to know them, and make friends. You'll have a better sense of community. You'll be safer.

You'll be happier.

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