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Building an A.R.C. in Your Neighborhood7/24/2007

Building an A.R.C. is the best way to become a good neighbor.  Being a good neighbor has become a lost art.  We barely know the people who live next door and probably wouldn't recognize the people across the street if we ran into them at the grocery store.  Building Wheezy's A.R.C. in your yard can prevent neighbors from being strangers or eventually becoming enemies. 

A.R.C. stands for:

Approach   
   

Correction


Responsibility

Approach your neighbors.  Say “hello.”  I know it sounds simple, but some people would rather crack their good china than to crack their lips to say, “HELLO.”    If you see them around the neighborhood a lot, say “HELLO” and extend your hand for shaking.  This is basic stuff, but some people haven’t mastered it yet.   

Slip a note in the mailbox, just to say, "HELLO."  It could say, "Hi, we haven’t talked, but I’m your neighbor, Jane."  Put your address and telephone number on it.  If  you are on the receiving end of one of these notes then reply within 24 hours but don’t be needy.  You can try to make a move toward friendship by making a date to get together.  Even if  you don’t become best friends, it makes a neighborhood kinder and safer when people try get to know one another.   Approach your neighbor about collecting mail and newspapers during their vacations.  Approach about sharing a glass of wine or a cup of coffee on the deck.  Approach to talk about neighborhood schools, babysitters, neighborhood beautification.  Just approach!

Responsibility is the “R” in the A.R.C. approach to being neighborly.  Take responsibility for traffic, trash, noise, kids and dogs. 

Don’t speed through your neighborhood.  Drive so slowly that a sudden stop could prevent most mishaps with your neighbors' pets and children.

Take responsibility for your trash.  Secure your trash so it doesn’t blow around the neighborhood on garbage day.  Don’t let your smelly trash can sit out at the curb all week.  Don’t litter your neighborhood and teach your children about putting trash where it is supposed to be.  

Noise control is your responsibility as well.   Some people sleep lightly, some people’s children sleep lightly.  Most of us would just rather hear our own music, not yours.

Most people can tolerate the squeals and playful screams of their own kids.  Other people don’t even let their own kids squeal and scream.  Keep your children out of the yards of the people who labor to keep their lawns postcard perfect.  They have every right to tell the kids to contain their fun to their own yard.  This is no excuse to be mean or use foul language around a child.  If you have an ongoing problem with a child, then go to the parents and ask them to allow you to put the soccer ball on one week’s “time out”  so that the kids can learn to be more responsible.  If both parties can act like adults, you will have mastered the A.R.C. technique.  Remember the African, proverb, “it takes a village.”  Extend your kindness to the children who live in your area.  Point them in a positive direction when you catch them doing something their mommy and daddy wouldn’t like.  Tattle if you think the child’s safety is at risk. 

Take responsibility for the noise, digging and droppings of your pet.  Stop letting your 70-pound dog make brownies in other people’s yards!  

Talk about your responsibility issues with your neighbor when they first arise.  Don’t wait until you get good and angry!   Anger just keeps the real issues from being addressed.  If you choose anger you are choosing to be a bully.  No one deserves to be bullied, especially not a neighbor.  Your neighbors play an important role in helping to keep your property and your family safe.  They should also help to keep property values healthy. 

Correction, is the “C” in A.R.C.  Correct what you are doing wrong as a neighbor.  Apologize after hot heads prevail.  Preserve neighbor relationships with peace offerings of coffee, preserves or a bottle of wine.  Correct that overgrown tree, correct that pile of junk causing an eyesore in your backyard.  Correct the dog dropping problem! 

If you cannot or will not master Wheezy’s A.R.C. of being neighborly, please get out of your neighborhood and never live in a neighborhood again!  It doesn’t suit you.   Go live on the outskirts of town.  Get a home in the country on many, many, many acres of land.  But remember,  you can move away from the city , but the city eventually finds you!