Knowing Our Neighbors

Brad M. Griffin | Jun 18, 2010

Nearly one in three Americans doesnt know a single neighbor. You know, the people who actually live near you kind of neighbors. None. Another third know some and 24% know most of the people who live close to them.

Yet, in a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project group released recently, a significant correlation was found between knowing neighbors and having face-to-face talks around community issues. Those who arent talking face-to-face about community issues seem to, in general, not be talking at all. When analyzing the use of various forms of technology/media to discuss community issues, the study found that very few access other platforms to interact with neighbors on community issues (or at all, really).

What stands out to me is that justice in our communities is directly related to awareness. And when we arent having conversations about the issues, were not likely to be aware of the issues or collaborating toward possible solutions. Further, when we dont know our neighbors in the first place, its so easy to ignore community concerns altogether. Living in a moderately-high-crime neighborhood, I see this play out all the time. There are folks who slide in and out and don’t get involved, and others who know everyone on the block and tend to be really aware of the latest news. The latter are more likely to start conversations about how we can make a difference.

But the first step is taking time to learn names. That’s inconvenient and takes effort. To 1 in 3 of us, it’s not worth it. Which one are you?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and the series Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. Brad and his family live in Southern California.


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