By Amber Woodworth
Living out in “The Country” can be an unparalleled living when the days are long, the breeze is warm and connections exist. The ideology of simple living and neighbours that know and help one another is a reality for many of us that are lucky enough to experience it.
Living in a rural community can also have ‘its’ long days in the right circumstances.
In my time of living in the sticks, we have had power outages that last days, snowstorms that force people to indoors for days, and social causes that have encouraged neighbours and community to come together indefinitely.
Here are some tips for those of you who are living out in the boonies; many of us raising our families in neighbourhoods that offer us something the city just can’t deliver…
#1 – Get out of your comfort zone. It sounds scary, I know. Trust me, if you can just step your toe across the line the rewards can be so worth it!
#2 – Introduce yourself. “Stranger Danger”… I remember my Mom telling me not to talk to people I didn’t know. Well guess what? People still generally don’t, but as adults, we don’t have to be quite so hesitant.
#3 – Say “Hi” to your neighbours! This one is pretty simple. It can be an ice breaker for many as well as a way for those of us who do know each other to stay connected in two seconds time.
#4 – Get the family involved. Spend time in your neighbourhood with your family. Whether you walk the dog down the road or take the kids out on their bikes, being out in your neighbourhood will likely introduce you to others out doing similar things.
#5 – Work in your front yard or area around your driveway. Maybe you are cutting the grass or working in the garden, but being outside encourages neighbours to connect as they pass by.
#6 – Help out (it’s actually fun.) When the snow storm hits, helping your neighbor can be an easy and rewarding contribution to your neighbourhood. If you have a tractor or plow of any kind, the work goes quickly and you will be paid with an abundance of gratitude from your neighbours (alongside treats, refreshments and sometimes tips!)
#7 – Stay local. Whether you get your mail from the post office, frequent the one coffee shop in town or know the gas station staff by name, having fewer amenities really gets people into their local businesses and getting to know those that live in their own backyards.
#8 – Find a “Hub” in your neighbourhood or create one! Having a neighbourhood Hub or gathering place can be as effortless as finding a great hill for kids to ride their bikes down. You can create a “Little Library” book exchange for adults & kids to share and exchange their previously loved books. Finding a place where people already gather, such as a mailbox can be a great location to add some interest and create a reason for neighbours to linger.
#9 – Get involved! Many rural neighbourhoods will have community events, to recognize holidays such as Family Day, Canada Day and Christmas. This year, look for Canada 150 events to celebrate Canada’s birthday! You are likely to not only meet neighbours at these celebrations, but also enjoy yourself! You can also expect to find local farmers markets (what a blessing!). The key to any opportunity within your neighbourhood is to actually get out and participate in the activities being offered.
#10 – Have fun! Life is too short for anything else. Get out in your neighbourhood without any pressure and just do what you love. Garden, cycle, take the dog for a walk, whatever it is… enjoy yourself. Everyone loves to have a good time and knowing that their neighbours do too, is an opportunity to connect.
Whatever it is you do to be a good neighbour in your rural community, joining us on Neighbour Day is a great addition! Whether you host a BBQ or get a group of neighbours together to walk dogs, the most important step is to just get out there and talk to one another.
Thanks for joining me today and feel free download our toolkit to plan a Neighbour Day event and then share your photos and comments with us at www.facebook.com/neighbourdayvictoria. You can also post to Twitter (@neighbour_day) and to Instagram (neigbourdayvictoria).