Five Tips for Meeting Your Neighbors...From a Distance

Look at that porch just waiting for someone to sit on it!
Look at that porch just waiting for someone to sit on it! Photo by TK Images
Houston is a naturally friendly place, but it is still a big city with huge swaths of suburbia. As a result, while we may be neighborly, we don't always know who our neighbors are. People are busy and don't often have time to socialize and there is backyard life, which over the last half century, has eclipsed front porches and happy waves to folks who live nearby.

Much of that has changed during the coronavirus crisis. As people are stuck at home either working or out of school, you might be noticing more crowded sidewalks than normal, people hanging out in the front yard or on the driveway. When people are dealing with a disaster, they tend to want to socialize, particularly with those nearest.

Problem is, how do you do that when you're supposed to maintain social distancing? We have some ideas.

Sit on your front porch or in your yard.

Some neighborhoods, particularly older ones like the Heights, are built for this type of socializing. Others, particularly suburban spots where the primary entrance to the house feels like the garage door, not so much. This is a chance to turn that around. Grab some chairs and camp out on your drive way or in your yard. Do it in the evening or and enjoy some people watching. Smile, wave and introduce yourself. Joke about social distancing so they know not to shake your hand, but enjoy a pretty nice way to meet people.

Do some gardening.

If you are going to be out front anyway, why not work on that yard that is probably just turning green after the winter. Those bushes aren't going to prune themselves. Put in some flowers or just do some spring watering. People love to chat about their yards. Work on it long enough, you might even get a few compliments in the process.

Have a safe distance block party.

We've seen images of people sitting in their neighborhoods on their driveways or in the yard enjoying each others' company from a good distance. Frequently they have a cold beverage in their hands. This is what we in Texas (and elsewhere, we assume) call "shooting the shit." You might recognize it from when your power was out during a tropical storm. What else do you have to do and it's perfectly safe since you are maintaining distance.

Go for a walk.

There is really no better way to learn about your neighbors than going to them. Walking for exercise, letting your dogs take you for a drag or pushing that stroller for fresh air are all great reasons to get outside in your hood. But, in the process, stop and say hello to neighbors you don't know. God knows we've met loads of them over the last week. The exercise won't hurt you either considering the million calories you've consumed panic eating while watching the news.

When all else fails, send beer.

Nothing gets people outside like happy hour.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke