Safety means communication

It is the first Tuesday of August. It means it is National Night Out. It is a time to meet your neighbors. A time to learn who lives in your building or the house next door. This program began in 1984 as part of the Town Watch Program. Matt Perkins, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania help develop this to a program where people could begin to know each other.  A time when we stop and talk to the people who live around us.

Today National Night Out includes thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August (Texas celebrates on the first Tuesday in October). Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. That is thirty eight million neighbors in sixteen thousand communities across the nation who are taking part in National Night Out.

IMG_0426.jpgA short conversation, a bite to eat and maybe a game or two played with the neighborhood kids is all it takes to make an evening of fun, the building of new friendships or the rekindling of old ones.

This year it seems more important than ever for us to stop and meet the people around us. It has been a year of violence both physical and emotional. The language and behavior of people on the national level has filtered into the country leaving us shaken and angry. Many have pulled back and are hesitant to reach out to those around them. We are unsure of reactions and our sense of trust has weaken. When we do not trust we do not feel safe. When we don’t feel safe we tend not to talk with the people around us. We walk by with our heads down, our eyes averted and move quickly on our way.

Tonight is the night to break that cycle. Tonight is the time to makes a salad, a few IMG_0427.jpgcookies or pull the family grill out from the backyard into the front. Even if you have not planned ahead – put your front light on, buy a package of cookies and take a few chairs out into the front yard or the front stoop. Take that step outside and look around, say hi to those that walk, by offer a cookie and a smile.

My guess is you will feel safer, a bit happier and so will the people around you!

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in behavior change, Reflection and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Safety means communication

  1. Andrea Clark says:

    Since graduating from college, I have always lived in an apartment, and I miss knowing my neighbors. It’s funny that I live very close to a lot of people whom I do not know at all. Enjoy meeting and reconnecting with your neighbors tonight!

    • Joanne Toft says:

      Andrea have you see the cute video that has been on the internet about the people in a hall way having dinner. All the neighbors come out with chairs and tables. It is fun to watch and hope that it might give others the same idea.

  2. arjeha says:

    Yes, we definitely need to take our communities back. A good start is knowing the people who live in the area spending time together. We all need to feel safe where we live.

  3. marilynyung says:

    “When we do not trust we do not feel safe.” Such a simple and profound sentence. National Night Out is a great idea. We really do need to know better those around us. I wonder why this has happened in our culture. It’s been a slow change. I grew up in a home with houses right next to ours. We couldn’t help but mingle with them daily. The home I’ve lived in for 25 years has neighbors, but they’re just far enough apart that we don’t see them often. We have to make a point to see them, usually. But then we get busy, blah, blah, blah. NNO sounds like the remedy for that. Thanks for posting!

  4. Ramona says:

    I always plan to do something for NNO and then it sneaks up on me. Thanks for reminding us of this important event. Since I’m leaving town tomorrow, it won’t happen tonight, but maybe I’ll do something later in the month.

  5. Adrienne says:

    You should read Katherine Applegate’s new book, Wishtree.

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