Getting to know your neighbours comes with all sorts of mutually rewarding benefits. Some are practical, like help watering the plants while you’re away. Others are more emotive, like knowing someone you trust is keeping a look-out for your wellbeing. Whatever it is, you can reap the rewards whether you live behind a picket fence or at the top of an apartment complex.
Marjon Martin has lived in the city’s south-west for almost 25 years, first in an apartment and now a cottage.
“Getting to know the people around you helps you feel at ease where you live,” said Marjon. “It allows you to be connected, to share news and be more aware of the delights of your neighbours and neighbourhood.”
Initiating that first ‘hello’ isn’t always easy, which is why Marjon and other south-west residents have been helping people in their local community forge friendships over food.
Since 2006, Marjon has helped run a monthly shared meal at the Adelaide South West Community Centre (171 Sturt Street), which draws south-west locals plus a few from further afield.
“It really just gives everyone an enjoyable reason to slow down and chat. Occasionally there’s a performance, some music or storytelling afterwards.”
At the Minor Works Building (22 Stamford Court) in the city’s south-west, a similar monthly gathering initiated by city south-west apartment owners Michael and Kenneth De Boo, has been running for four years.
“We’re blessed to live very close to this building which is available for the community to use,” said Michael. “For each monthly shared meal we put posters up around our apartment building and throughout the neighbourhood, inviting people to bring some food to share and get to know their neighbours. We make a special effort to say hi to both new and old neighbours and before each meal I like to greet everyone and introduce the new people to make sure they feel welcome.
“Everyone helps to set up the long table, organise drinks and put the food out and many people help with the dishes at the end. Through all these small tasks there’s the chance of socialising and getting to know each other a little better. “
For the De Boos, who moved to the city from the suburbs, the pay-off of their efforts has been incredible.
“As a result of knowing so many neighbours both near and far we feel like we live in a village which gives us a really strong sense of community and belonging,” said Michael. “We’re able to call on many of our immediate neighbours for help, to borrow a tool or something for the kitchen. If we’re sick or need to borrow a car we have several people who can help us out. We see this neighbourly support happening around us all the time.”
Community-driven events like this are being organised across all corners of the city. On the fourth Saturday of each month, the Friends & Residents of North Adelaide (FARONA) group put on a free Community Dinner in or around the North Adelaide Community Centre (176 Tynte St).
The FARONA shared meals work in the same way as the Minor Works Building events, just reaching out to help create connection through conversation across another section of the city. For these events, North Adelaide residents and other people who spend time in the local community are invited to bring along a plate of food to share in exchange for a chat and a laugh with friends new and old. There’s often a live music performance as well!
You can find more information on FARONA’s events on the group’s Facebook page here.
National Neighbour Day on Sunday 31 March is a fine time to reach out and introduce yourself to your neighbours. If you don’t get the chance, remember this: every day is a great day to share a smile and a wave.
Click here for more information about events you can participate in at any of the City of Adelaide’s three Community Centres (North Adelaide Community Centre, Adelaide South West Community Centre and the Box Factory Community Centre).