The Ability to Get to Know Your Neighbors
At a holiday party this weekend, a friend who lives east of Stone Mountain talked about doing his gift shopping in Lilburn and Snellville. As he walked between shops, his attempts to greet people with “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays” or even just “Hi” were met with dour looks. He blamed it on holiday stress, but this is not an experience I ever have on Main Street Tucker.
People in Tucker are often described as “approachable,” “neighborly,” “friendly,” etc. They stop and talk in their yards, on their streets, in stores, at community events and anywhere Tuckerites gather. One of my neighbors, a retired lady even older than myself, works out at the same gym that I occasionally haunt. She and I generally chat there (okay, I gossip, she chats), but such interchanges began well before we found out about the gym connection.
I have certainly lived in communities, both in Atlanta and elsewhere, where such ease of interaction was not the norm. In such neighborhoods, approaching a neighbor was clearly suspect, even if you had been aware of each other for months.
This is not to say that people in Tucker do not have their own level of caution. Strangers of any race or gender are likely to be met with wariness in most neighborhoods. However, once someone is identified as a resident, that tends to change.
In fact, many neighborhoods are happy for an infusion of new blood. I have heard this refrain at numerous community meetings around Tucker, and heard these exact words again last week: “We need more young people to move here.” My neighborhood has Tuckerites who also identify as Indians, Muslims, and Bhutanese, in addition to the more traditional backgrounds most people associate with the city.
There are also a variety of mechanisms in place to help people who want to meet their neighbors. These include the community events on Main Street, a host of Tucker organizations, an active rec center, and more than a few long-term nightspots that attract customers from here and elsewhere.
Of course, there is also the corresponding right to avoid all these, which I will address in my next post.
What was the best way you met your neighbors?