A lot goes into building safe, strong communities. While no single factor can be highlighted as more important than another in regard to building strong communities, a willingness on the part of residents to connect with their neighbors can greatly benefit local neighborhoods and the people who call those communities home.
According to Mental Health America, a community-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting the mental health of all Americans, research has shown that social connections increase happiness and lead to improved overall health and even longer lives. Adults may find that establishing a connection with their communities, and maintaining that connection while juggling the responsibilities of work and a family, is not always so easy. That’s especially so for adults who have recently relocated to new areas. Reaching out to neighbors can be a great way for adults to build new relationships that can benefit them as individuals and strengthen their communities.
• Don’t be shy. People often want to know who’s living next door, so adults who have recently moved need not be shy about introducing themselves to their new neighbors. Introduce yourself and share what inspired you to move to your new neighborhood.
• Answer and ask questions. Neighbors will no doubt ask questions when you introduce yourself, so be ready to answer these questions. Questions may focus on your career and where you grew up. If you grew up in the area where you recently moved, some of your neighbors likely did as well. Sharing stories about your school days and/or local hotspots can be a great way to break the ice. Don’t hesitate to ask some questions of your own as well. Asking questions might reveal some common interests that can serve as strong foundations for budding relationships.
• Host a backyard barbecue. Backyard barbecues are laid back affairs, and that pressure-free atmosphere is perfect for meeting new neighbors. Once you have settled in, invite a handful of your neighbors over for the barbecue. If you have children, invite neighbors who also are parents, ideally ones whose children are the same age as your own. Kids have sparked many a conversation, and discussions about local schools, parks and programs for youngsters can be great ice breakers.
• Volunteer. Volunteering with community-based organizations is another great way to meet new neighbors. Volunteering with an organization whose mission you identify with may be even better, as you’re likely to find like-minded neighbors who share your passions when working with such groups.
Strong communities are built around people. When moving to a new community, adults can overcome the challenges such relocations present by taking various steps to connect with their new neighbors.
Internet access is no longer limited to desktop or laptop computers. World Advertising Research Center, using data from mobile trade body GSMA, says almost three-quarters of internet users, or roughly 3.7 billion people, will access the internet exclusively via smartphones by 2025.
Young people are one of the largest demographics utilizing smartphones today. A Common Sense Media survey says just over half of children in the United States now own a smartphone by the age of 11. In addition, 84 percent of teenagers have their own phones. Most youth grew up with the internet, and they have embraced a variety of apps, particularly social media apps, that connect them to the world.
Social media certainly can be an asset, but it has inherent risks, such as making kids easy targets for identity theft or sexual predators. Other apps expose users to explicit, unfiltered content. Parents must educate themselves about the popular apps their tweens and teens may be using and weigh their pros and cons. Here’s a list of apps every parent should know in 2020.
This app (formerly Musical.ly) is designed for creating and sharing short videos, notably music videos. Users are urged to express their creativity, and special effects can be added. While minimum age for use is 13, there is no real way to validate users’ ages so anyone can download the app. Parents say the videos are plagued by inappropriate language and content, including pornographic material. Also, some have warned that when sexual predators are identified, the app is slow to flag and remove these users.
This is a cross-platform messaging app that enables users to chat anonymously without the need for phone service. Users also can share most digital media and video chat with one another. Forbes reports that Kik has had issues with child exploitation and sexual harassment.
The web resource FamilyEducation says this messenger app allows kids to ask and answer questions anonymously, purporting to be the “most honest place on the internet.” Cyber bullying and violent threats are common, according to watchdog groups.
This social app advertises its ability to have users meet new people through messages, video calls and live streams. With no option to set privacy limitations, users can freely view other profiles within the vicinity. Also, reaching out to others and viewing profiles generates in-app reward incentives.
• Bigo Live:
Common Sense Media says this app is like YouTube and Twitch in that Bigo Live lets users stream live video of themselves that others can see and comment on in real time. People also can send and receive “beans”, which are virtual gifts that cost real money. The warning is that Bigo has a lot of mature content and predatory commentary.
Yolo is an easy add-on for Snapchat, which also is a popular app among children. Yolo lets users ask anonymous questions and receive feedback. The anonymity of commentary can be a recipe for bullying, trolling and hurt feelings.
Parents can safeguard their children by monitoring internet access and understanding popular apps used by today’s youth.
The adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day” dates back to the 12th century. Though the saying is now nearly a millenium old, its message, namely that time is necessary to create great things, is as true in 2020 as it was in 1190.
Building great communities takes time, but that process is often escalated when community members take collective action to make their towns or cities happier, healthier and safer places to live. One great way to make community-building the collective affair it needs to be is to plan activities that all community members can engage in and enjoy. The following are four community-building activities that can attract all members of the community.
1. Fun run/walk
A community fun run/walk is great for singles, families, children, and the elderly. These events typically draw crowds who will either participate in a 5K run or walk (roughly 3.1 miles) or spectators who cheer them on. The event typically begins in the center of town and then circles back so everyone begins and ends the day in the heart of town. An added benefit to this type of event is that participants usually run or walk for the benefit of a charity. Community organizers can choose a locally-based charitable organization to make the event even more community-friendly.
2. A taste of the town
A taste of the town event is a great way to entice local foodies to get out of the house and enjoy some delicious foods prepared by local restaurants. Host this outdoor event on Main Street or at local park or school and allow local restaurant owners to set up food trucks or stands so community members can sample their most delicious dishes. This is a great way to bring the community together and promote local businesses.
3. Music festival
Encourage local musicians to showcase their unique talents with a community music festival. Invite a local radio station to host a show at the festival and encourage local bars and restaurants to set up tents or food trucks so music lovers can enjoy some food and beverages while they watch their neighbors perform.
4. Field day
Many adults fondly recall school-wide field days when they were in elementary schools. Communities can capitalize on those fond memories by organizing community-wide field days that encourage participation from all residents. Categorize events by age, so residents young and old can compete, and group size, so families and singles can compete against one another in events like three-legged races or horseshoes.
Community-building activities can be fun and effective ways to strengthen neighborhoods and foster strong relationships between residents of all ages.