Love this guest post from my dear Sister in Law, Erin Smith, on the power of an simple, spontaneous get together to build community.
"My husband and I are guilty of nicknaming our neighbors. We live in close proximity not to the Johnsons, Garcias, and Potters, but to the “Secret Millionaire,” the “People with the Mean Dog,” and the “Family with Ridiculously Loud Cars.”
We’ve made up monikers for the majority of our neighbors either because we can’t remember what they said when we were introduced, or, I’m sad to say, because we simply have just not made an effort to meet them. Don’t get me wrong—we’re friendly. We wave and say hi to everyone regardless of whether we’ve met them or not. But sometimes after waving to the same stranger day after day, it just makes sense to meet them. And give them a real name.
Backyard fires are all the rage around here. Nearly every house in the neighborhood has a fire pit, and last weekend our neighbors invited us and several other families over for s’mores and conversation. We were able to put REAL names to faces, learn more about our neighbors than just the kind of car they drive, and hear interesting tidbits about what our neighborhood was like before we moved in. It was a good time all around, and such a simple thing to do. With or without the s’mores, a fire establishes a laid back atmosphere and immediately eliminates any pressure that might exist say over a dinner table or game night.
If you live in an area where you’re permitted to have fires in your yard, try inviting over some neighbors you don’t know very well and see what happens. I have a feeling you will be as pleasantly surprised as we were."