1. Talk to your neighbors
I know that it can be scary. They are your NEIGHBORS after all. When we moved into town I thought a neighbor or two would stop by with cookies or a hello. I don’t know! I haven’t lived in this kind of neighborhood since I was in college. And no, nobody stopped in to the college house with six roommates. That’s for sure.
Well, I was wrong here too. Nobody stopped by. Every once in awhile I would chat with a neighbor down the street during one of our walks and they didn’t even know that our house had sold. Wow.
Things have changed. We have spoken with all of our immediate neighbors and continue to do so occasionally. We don’t need to be bosom buddies just, well, neighborly.
By now, I’m sure that you consider me to be an outgoing, gabby person. THIS IS NOT TRUE. I am a recluse who occasionally remembers that there are really interesting people in the world. Apparently I am a control. Freak.
If I’ve talked to my neighbors so can you. So, do it! You don’t have to share your life story, you can just say “hiya” when you’re both getting the mail or stop your lawnmower for a minute to wave and smile.
(Psst I waved to my neighbor yesterday and he plowed out our mailbox. I’m not saying this kind of goodwill just happens but you never know unless you try, right?)
That wasn’t so hard was it?
2. Get a library card
Your public library isn’t only awesome because it is FREE and has more than one imaginations worth of goods that you can BORROW but it is also a valuable window into the dynamics of your town.
Many library employees lead double lives and are the movers and shakers in town so it is a good place to ask your random questions about how things work. It is also the best place to go when the weather is crummy (way better than the mall), when you have a question like, where can I get a dump sticker?, or when you find that your internet is on the blink. FREE. BOOKS. FRIENDLY. MUSEUM PASSES. KIDS PROGRAMS. LECTURES. MUSIC. DVDs for a week. Need I say more?
Well, yes. For all you non-believers out there or those of you who know you should but don’t anyway, the library system is quite a sleek, modern machine. You can usually reserve library books and dvds and videos etc. online. There are downloadable audio books now too and, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS? Get onto to your library’s website stat.
3. Find your town’s big event and go
We’ve got the Carver Old Home Day. I don’t know what is in your area but you can find out by doing #1, #2, #4, or #5 on this list.
You can, of course do the cruiser version of a visit or you can sign up early and partake in an old-fashioned clambake, or you could do the super version and actually get involved.
I am honest enough to say that, thus far, we’ve been the cruiser type. But our appetite has been whetted for that clambake. We’ll be back once our children don’t completely lose it at nap time.
Here is to joining in. Huzzah!
4. Talk to people you meet
We expect so much of ourselves these days. If someone stops at a stop sign for 10 seconds they have definitely been honked at. 10 seconds? What?
Slow down. Saying hello to someone in the grocery store or waiting that extra 10 seconds to hold the door for someone is a good start. But no pressure.
If you want to take it to the next level then invest in an hour out in a sunny park. Say hello or just look around. And no, you are not being lazy, you are just not being busy.
It won’t take long to start recognizing people and, in turn, being recognized. A little like high school you ask? Not really, but sort of. Ok, yes.
You are slowly becoming part of the community, getting a sense of its rhythm and getting tuned up to join in.
5. Wander around your town or city hall
Town/City Hall holds a wealth of information about your town and its recreation areas, voter registration, permit requirements, environmental issues affecting your area and so many more things you didn’t know that you NEEDED to find out.
You don’t need a reason to go and get the lay of the land. But once you are familiar with the place you’ll be ready for a quick errand local style. You’ll know right where to go, you might recognize some of the employees and you’ll definitely already know where the bathroom is. Win!
So, let’s hear it. Do you have any other tips to add for the beginner? Any inspirational stories?