As overwhelming as “Snowpocalypse 2021” was, even more, overwhelming was the outpouring of help and support our community gave and received. Wow! I think it is safe to say that we just went through a very trying time, and have come out of it more gracious, more thankful, and better equipped to withstand almost anything at this point. I kept thinking about the Mr. Rogers quote: “Look for the helpers, You will always find people who are helping” and there were plenty out there doing whatever they could to help their neighbors out. Now that the sun is shining and spring is on its way, I think the lessons we learned of helping our neighbors out is something to work hard at sustaining.
Meeting neighbors and getting to know your neighbors is what fosters and builds a community. Aesop pessimistically wrote “Familiarity breeds contempt.” While Mark Twain, wittily expounded on the theme with “Familiarity breeds contempt and children.” Ever the optimist, I prefer “Familiarity breeds content”; especially regarding good neighbors.
With the internet, the world is so completely inundated with “communication” and “community”. We all have our Facebook friends, and you might be on nextdoor.com, which does a good job of creating a more neighborhood-driven social media connection. But, with both of these online communities, do you really know who your neighbors are? Have you gone next door or a few doors down and asked to borrow a screwdriver, or see if the neighbor knows why the City of Austin is digging up the street again? You don’t have to wait until the annual block party or the 4th of July parade to strike up a conversation with your fellow Travis Countries. Whether you’re new to the neighborhood or have lived here for a long time, break out of your comfort zone, walk next door or across the street, and connect with your neighbor. Simply smiling and saying hello can lead to all kinds of wonderful conversations with neighbors.
Spring is in the air, which means more and more people are going to be out walking their dogs, cleaning out their garages, or planting their spring flowers. A friendly “hello, how are you” often has the pleasant habit of morphing into a neighborly conversation.
Travis Country has all sorts of clubs and social events (some of which are on hold for COVID-19) that make it easy to meet neighbors that might share your same interests. Volunteering at one of the neighborhood social events is a great way to meet your neighbors while also serving our community. Blue Valley Park is a delightful place to walk around and meet various neighbors. The playgrounds at both Blue Valley and Hilltop will always hold a special place in my heart, as they are where I met some of my closest friends when my kids were younger. As we languidly pushed our children in the swings and visited about our lives, we (and our children) formed a special bond that has lasted.
Ultimately, it does not matter how you go about meeting your neighbors, but the gratitude and sense of belonging start with getting out and saying “Howdy neighbor” live and in person! I think you will find that TC neighbors are some of the friendliest in Austin and are there for each other both during the good times and the trying times. I’m proud of how my TC neighbors stepped up and continue to be the people who are helping.