Do you want to know your neighbors?

Tonight, people in thousands of neighborhoods around the country will gather to get to know each other on National Night Out and Night to Unite. The idea is to make communities safer by spreading information about fighting crime and preventing drug abuse. Do you want to know your neighbors?

My neighbors are great! We all enjoy spending time together in the alley. -anonymous text message

Absolutely! But i wasn’t invited. -anonymous text message

Not all of them…maybe a few. -anonymous text message

  • Patrick Hirigoyen

    It’s not a question of whether anyone WANTS to know their neighbors – for safety, understanding and community, we NEED to know our neighbors. If the woman in Cambridge, Mass. who called the police had known her neighbor Henry Louis Gates, and where he lived, a painful misunderstanding could have been avoided.

  • Bernard Bleeker

    Emphatically NO!. . .that is why we live in

    “the big city” and rely on the city to provide any necessary services in anonymous surroundings.

  • Noel

    Being a gay male in the northern suburbs, I typically do not have much in common with my neighbors. However, I do believe that it is important to know your neighbors. Although, you do not need to be best of friends with your neighbors it’s nice if you have some sort of relationship with them…you never know when you may need them.

  • geri

    I live in the Big City and love my neighbors. I live in the Kingfield neighborhood of South Minneapolis, and consider my neighbors the best part about living here. I just wish I had more time to get to know them, so I look forward to National Night Out every year.

  • R Camilletti

    I wish I could! This is the 15th state i have lived in and never have I encountered such aloof neighbors! is it the weather, ziet giest, my breath?. Minnesotans are overtly unfriendly and impolite compared to New Yorkers, Californians, New Jerseyians, D.C. residents…

  • Donovan Wadholm

    As a resident of Fargo/Moorhead for the last three years I only knew my neighbors on either side of my house until the recent flooding. Now, having fought the rising river side by side with all of my neighbors, and indeed the whole community, I have made relationships that have enriched my life both personally and professionally.

    Everyone should get to know their neighbors…you never know when you will need someone you trust to lean on.

  • Patrick

    This question as well as National Night Out remind me of how far we have retreated into to our own private worlds. So many of the problems we have as Americans can be traced to the eroding of community in favor of fences, TV, divisive politics, and fear of strangers. I would love to know my neighbors, but these days its become much more of a social leap than it really should be.

  • Al

    We live in the burbs and I like knowing my neighbors. We exchange small talk and tools and water each others plants when we’re on vacation.

    But that’s about as well as I’d like to know them. I visit the in-laws in a small town out on the prairie. Every on sees everyone else all day long because they are forced to shop at the same place, go to the same barber, and so on. I like my neighbors, but it’s nice not to have them know virtually everything about me.

  • Katy

    Yes, I definitely want to know my neighbors. When we moved in three years ago our neighbors on both sides introduced themselves and through the yearly night out party, I’ve met people down the street. Also, I’ve made friends with the regular bus riders in the area and have been invited to wedding showers, cabin weekends, and open houses as a result.

    I like that I know them and they know me, if only by sight for some of them.

    I don’t think that all Minnesotans are overtly unfriendly. My experience has been precisely the opposite, actually. But that probably has to do with the neighborhood I moved into: there are few rentals, houses are close together, kids play outside, and many people use public transportation so there are lots of contact opportunities that extend over long periods of time.

    Three years ago I thought this might only be a “starter” house, but now after getting to know the neighbors and the neighborhood, I’m not sure that I’ll ever want to leave.

  • bob

    I think it depends entirely on what kind of person you are and what your needs and interests are. I’m not unfriendly, but I would probably strike some of the other commenters that way, as I’m not a gregarious person/not much of a smalltalker. And I’m not even Lutheran!

    My wife and I have lived in the Como Park neighborhood of St. Paul for nigh on 14 years; we talk over the fence on occasion with one set of neighbors, and have been back and forth a few times for dinner with them. We let them know when we plan be away for an extended period. We know the neighbors on the other side well enough to wave to. So I guess you could say we aren’t very neighborhood-y. But our interests generally lie beyond the neighborhood.

    I’m not saying that’s good or bad, just that by dint of our personalities and interests, we feel less compelled to be on semi-intimate terms with our neighbors than others might.

  • Tom Paine

    I do try to know my neighbors. However I do experience cultural barriers in the communities I have lived in, and as a result I am less likely to reach out to neighbors who I share few cultural ties.

    Its not all on me to reach out to know others in my neighborhood as I used to. I feel this way especially with the Somali community who I once lived among.

    I want to know my neighbors who I have something in common with, but I am only willing to get to know neighbors who I have nothing in common with if they are willing to meet me half way. Its not all on me anymore.

  • Cristina

    A reading of Robert Frost shows that he was being facetious when he wrote, good fences make good neighbors. I wonder what many of us would think if we changed our understanding of this frequently used sentence.

  • Susan

    YES! I’m so lucky to live on a block with 18 + kids, so as parents, we need to know eachother at least at a neighborly level. It’s comforting and I think it provides stability and wonderful memories for the kids.

  • John Malone

    Think of the flip side. Is there any advantage to not knowing the neighbors? I think there is something incredibly sad about people living 50 feet from each other for decades when they don’t even know their names.

    Growing up in the western suburbs, we knew all the neighbors and we all kept an eye on each other, for better or worse.

    Now that I live in Minneapolis, I have neighbors that will call the city to complain about supposed weeds in my lawn instead of just walking over and talking to me about it.

    National Night Out is a good thing and more community events like this would only help our communities become alive and vibrant.

  • Aaron

    We recently bought a house and moved to the burbs from downtown MPLS. It has been nice to get to know our neighbors which is something that does not seem to happen in apartment living. It has only been 2.5 months in our new home but I already feel more like a part of the community than I did in 2 years in our old apartment.

  • Eiolg

    Some neighborhoods are just friendlier than others. I grew up in a city and found that there are differences several places where I’ve lived. Now i’m in a rural area and it is much easier to meet people. I’m not especially outgoing, but I’ve been glad when I’ve finally made connections with people. I’ve found it interesting to realize that people have unusual and interesting hobbies and avocations, for example. For the commenter who said that he has nothing in common with his neighbors, how would you know if you haven’t taken the time and effort to meet them?

  • Kirsten

    I love knowing my neighbors. Never did before I got a dog — now I know all the other neighbors who have dogs, and it’s nice to wave to each other on walks at 6 a.m., and have people who will look after the pup when I go on vacation, or have beers with them on the patio on a sunny day. My life has expanded in infinite measure by getting to know the (very) diverse people who surround me, with whom I may or may not have anything in common (aside from dog ownership). Not to mention I feel a whole lot safer when I’m out and about, as there’s always someone who recognizes me.

  • Leo

    I have very little to do with my neighbors.They are mostly republicans and I find there lack of social concience repulsive to say the least.They are all about them,me first, me again, any left over me again.They vote GAGGG that is GUNS,ABORTION,GREED,GAYS and GOD,simple minded single issues.Hard to be around such narrow minded people.

  • Mike

    For safety reasons, I do feel that it is important to know who your neighbors are, and to always act respectfully towards them. “Getting to know” one’s neighbors beyond that, is an issue of comfort level, and I for one am not really comfortable with getting personal with my neighbors. I try my best to keep a friendly dialogue with my neighbors as long as it stays “small talk.”

    While living in St. Paul, I became very soured on the stereotypical “nosey neighbor.” I saw many instances of neighborhood gossip (with damaging effect) about people that had nothing to do with the people that were spreading the gossip.

    I do my best not to pry into other people’s personal lives, and I appriciate it when the same is done in return. Now living in a small town once again, it is a lot more difficult to keep private matters private, because there are a lot more “nosey neighbors” around with nothing better to do than *fix* all the world’s problems through gossip.

  • Nikki

    I never met my neighbors when I lived in the Twin Cities, but now that I’ve moved up to a small town in northern MN I know the entire neighborhood and its great! The first week I moved in we got 18″ of snow and my car got stuck in the driveway trying to back over the drift from the plow and within 10 minutes 7 different neighbors had shown up with shovels to help free the car! Our neighborhood is awesome!