Tip Of The Month: Hang Out In Your Front Yard
Visibility is good, but availability — willing to engage (a wave, a conversation) with your neighbors — is better
At The Neighboring Movement, we often talk about the importance of both visibility and availability when practicing neighboring. While these two concepts are related, and while both are helpful when neighboring, we think it is important to draw a distinction between them.
We define visibility as simply being in a space where your neighbors can see you. (This space might be your front yard, a neighborhood park, etc.) Visibility allows our neighbors to see that we are home and well, and it tells them that we are willing to be seen by them, willing to be in the same space as them, and willing to be engaged in our neighborhood.
To compare, we define availability as being in a space where your neighbors can see you WHILE ALSO being willing to engage with your neighbors. (This engaging can look a lot of different ways, like a conversation, a wave, etc.) Availability allows our neighbors to see that we are home and well, tells them that we are willing to be seen by them, in the same space as them, and engaged in our neighborhood, AND makes space to connect with them in a variety of ways.
According to these definitions, while hanging out in your front yard automatically makes you more visible to your neighbors, it does not automatically make you more available to them. This week, we encourage you to be both visible and available — to not only hang out in your front yard but to also be willing to engage with your neighbors in the midst of doing so. We hope this will lead to some fantastic neighboring interactions!
As with our other tips, please first and foremost be mindful of the health and safety of your neighbors, and your own health and safety, when experimenting with this tip. Your neighbors might all be practicing distancing in very different ways, and these ways might not line up with how you are practicing distancing. That being said, please respect how your neighbors are distancing. Some may be experiencing circumstances, or may have pre-existing medical conditions, that make them want to distance more than you are, and if that is the case, please respect that. Others may not be distancing as much as you are, and if that is the case and one comes up to you to chat, you may have to set some boundaries with them and ask them if they would be willing to stay a certain distance away. We have found it most helpful to just name right up front with our neighbors exactly how we are practicing physical distancing, so that they are aware of our distancing desires before they might just come right on up to us.
In light of this, we also ask that you wear a mask, or have a mask handy, when hanging out in your front yard. Again, along with distancing, wearing a mask just continues to minimize the chances of possibly exposing your neighbor to coronavirus! Even if you just keep yours around your neck when you are hanging out in your front yard, it is there, ready to put on if a neighbor approaches.
Let’s continue doing all that we can to keep our neighbors safe and to foster relationships with them at the same time. Keep up the good work!
From The Neighboring Movement at SoCe Life, Great Plains Annual Conference
Published: Thursday, April 15, 2021