A new initiative funded by the Takoma Foundation invites you to host a NeighborCircle.
A NeighborCircle is “a good conversation over dinner with neighbors.” That’s pretty much it. Why make this into a project? Because, admittedly, most of us don’t know our neighbors and they don’t know us. We are too busy, too shy, or too intimidated to make connections and build relationships with people on our streets. People who live on a given street come from all walks of life and corners of the globe. We come with different languages, cultures, habits, foods, colors, and religions. We have all had a different journey to our street and, in some sense, finding ourselves living together by sheer accident. And once we arrive, we go off to different jobs, houses of worship, and social spaces. The little time we spend at home is consumed with television, internet, and video games. And yet, the costs of this neighbor-to-neighbor disconnection are enormous. Poor communication contributes to distrust, bigotry, apathy, and disengagement.
The NeighborCircles project offers an opportunity to get together and connect, leading to strengthened relationships, an appreciation of differences, and greater civic engagement. It starts block by block with one host at a time, opening their home to something that is easy, enjoyable, and that we all know how to do – eat and talk!
This approach was developed by Lawrence CommunityWorks in the struggling city of Lawrence, MA, where it has been used to build community since 2002. Today, NeighborCircles have spread throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Mississippi, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, and Maryland. NeighborCircles are simple and adaptable model of grassroots-led community dialogue. Takoma’s NeighborCircles are being organizing by the Maitri House, a family-inclusive, cooperatively-owned, and socially-active intentional Community in Takoma Park that was founded in 2008 (see www.maitrihouse.org).
What does a host do? Hosts reach out to eight to ten unfamiliar neighbors and, over the course of one month, invite them to their own home three times for dinner and a conversation supported by one or two of the facilitators. The Maitri House organizing team provides hosts with an orientation, support, and needed materials; reimburses them for the cost of dinner and childcare (when necessary); and coordinates the facilitators. If interested, please contact Tarek at 202-374-0369 or firstname.lastname@example.org