Get to Know Your Neighbors – It’s Good for your Health! (How to Evaluate Neighborhoodiness)

I spend a lot of time thinking about connectivity and connectedness – “being part of something” is one of the most important criteria my buyer clients define.

The end of neighbours – How our increasingly closed-off lives are poisoning our politics and endangering our health

It’s a new day in the neighbourhood all across the Western world. More than 30 per cent of Canadians now say they feel disconnected from their neighbours, while half of Americans admit they don’t know the names of theirs. An Australian sociologist investigating community responses in the wake of the 2011 floods in Queensland found relations in “a precarious balance”; neighbours were hesitant to intrude even in emergencies—leading the scholar to conclude that “we are less likely than ever to know” our neighbours. Quite right, too: A recent poll of 2,000 Britons found a third declaring they couldn’t pick their near neighbours out of a police lineup.

Yet it’s hardly surprising, given how lengthy working days, long commutes and having both parents in the labour force have combined with the way we raise our children to create suburban neighbourhoods that are empty more than half the day, with scarcely a neighbour to encounter, let alone recognize, trust or befriend. But, however powerful the economic and social forces behind the disappearing neighbour—and however positive many of its results—according to reams of new research, the transformation is also poisoning our politics and, quite literally, killing us.

And another perspective on similar studies:

Always Talk to Strangers – People who know and trust their neighbors are less likely to have heart attacks. New research builds on the understated health benefits of a sense of belonging and community.

The study du jour, published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, is based on assessments of social connectedness in 5276 adults in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The subjects rated how strongly they agreed with the following four prompts:

• “I really feel part of this area.”
• “If [I] were in trouble, there are lots of people in this area who would help.”
• “Most people in this area can be trusted.”
• “Most people in this area are friendly.”

The responses landed the participants on a seven-point Likert scale. And then they were followed. Four years later, 148 of them had experienced heart attacks.

“On the seven-point scale,” Kim explained, “each unit of increase in neighborhood social cohesion was associated with a 17 percent reduced risk of heart attacks.”

“If you compare the people who had the most versus the least neighborhood social cohesion,” Kim continued, “they had a 67 percent reduced risk of heart attacks.”

But how does a stranger assess neighborhoodiness?

- How friendly is the neighborhood?
– Knock on doors
– Walk your dog or kids (borrow one or the other or both if you don’t have them) in the neighborhood
– Drive through and see who waves (really).
– Does the neighborhood have a Facebook or Nextdoor group? I haven’t tried this yet, but I think i might start asking for a printout of the past few conversations if such a page does exist …

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