I’m sitting at my kitchen desk, watching through the window as a FedEx truck pulls up to my neighbor’s house. Normally I wouldn’t give pause to a package being left in plain sight on their doorstep, but today is different.
Today, the serial bomber in Austin, Texas is dead.
The terror of deadly packages and unsuspecting tripwire, however, still looms in the newly spring air. Five bombs have exploded in Austin since March 2, tragically killing Anthony House and Draylen Mason, injuring others. Draylen was killed on our son’s birthday– they are the same age and were both headed to the same university this fall. The tripwire was located in the side yard of friends from our children’s elementary school days. Today’s news hits close to home.
At a press briefing early Wednesday morning, Austin Mayor Steve Adler commended law enforcement for their incredible efforts in the bombing investigation. Mayor Adler said that after spending time in neighborhoods where the bombs were detonated, he hopes that Austin can come together to form stronger community ties.
“As a community we need to do a better job of knowing the people that live across the street,” he said. “If there’s a takeaway from this, it’s that we can be and should be a better community if we get to know each other better.”
I believe Mayor Adler is spot on in his words to our city today. His call-to-action applies to every city, every citizen, and all neighbors across America.
School shootings, serial bomber, natural disasters, never-ending political quagmire. It’s hard to fathom what the next breaking news story might be. With little or no time to process, our hearts are catapulted from one seemingly hopeless story to the next leaving us in a perpetual state of worldly whiplash.
We mustn’t lose hope. Or give into fear. Or be paralyzed by what divides us.
This is what I know to be true– we need each other now more than ever. We must invest in our communities and neighborhoods with the most valuable resource we have — each other. Relationships with our neighbors This takes time and intentionality. It’s not always easy.
It’s up to us to put the UNITY back in community.
Our time is now. Don’t wait for an invitation to a block party. Or until your apartment is tidy. Or you move to a new house. Or the weather is better.
Please join us as Front Yard People and introduce yourself to a neighbor today.
Today is the day to make the time and muster the courage to cross the street or hall or fence.
If you need encouragement (or a gentle shove) email me. I’ll hold your hand. In the meantime, here are four ways to connect with a neighbor today.
- Learn your neighbor’s name. Being called by name goes a long way. It’s the first step in showing someone you care and they belong. If you want to get to know someone, “hey dude!” isn’t the answer.
- Write a handwritten note and deliver it to a neighbor. When was the last time you received text? Minutes? Seconds? How about a handwritten note? Hmmm. . . think how good it feels to receive a thoughtfully written note from a friend. Think how good it could feel to be the sender of a thoughtfully written note.
- Lend a helping hand. Offer to mow your neighbor’s lawn or run a quick errand. Deliver dinner or baked goods to a new neighbor or single parent (or just because!)
- Invite a neighbor for coffee. (It helps if you’ve succeeded with #1.) Meet at a local coffee shop or plan a small gathering with several neighbors. Keep it simple, but make the effort.
If you want more encouragement we’ve created a simple challenge for you to try. Reach out to a friend or neighbor and take this call-to-action to connect with your neighbors, today.
5 Simple Ways You Can Connect with a Neighbor This Week