Every year in June, the Northwest Windermere Real Estate offices close their doors for the day to perform community services in their neighborhoods. Community Service Day (CSD) has been part of the Windermere company culture since the 1980s! This year, Windermere Mercer Island conducted a drive for Eastside Baby Corner (EBC) to help the non-profit provide the basics for the 700 King County children they serve per week. With your help during the drive, on #CSD2016 we were able to deliver a cube truck full of basics, clothing, toys and books along with over $1500 worth of donation dollars to be used by EBC in the areas they have the most need.* We sincerely appreciate your help with the drive, and the time provided by Windermere Real Estate to spend the day helping out in our community.
As our office wrapped up CSD 2016, I thought about ways to extend the heart-warming feeling of community service day throughout the year. One of the biggest selling points of select neighborhoods on Mercer Island, and around our region, are their neighborhood cultures – annual block parties, community gathering points like landings and parks, communal celebrations of holidays through neighborhood activities like trick-or-treating or light displays. But what are some ways to take this celebration of community a little further and extend it into our daily interactions with our neighbors? How can we individually make positive contributions in our communities on a daily basis?
Of course, I reached out to Google and conducted a search to see what was already written on this subject. There is an amazing array of discourse on this very subject. And the common chord I read in each article was the suggestion to reclaim our front yards as a social space.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, where the mid-century modern and northwest contemporary homes took our region by storm, one of the big features of the PNW lifestyle has been the privacy of our generous backyard areas. Gathering with friends at summer barbecues, kids playing in the yard, gardening – these activities became relegated to outdoor rooms behind fences and hedges. Each article I read during my search suggested placing a couple of chairs in our front yards to sit and enjoy a warm summer evening, gardening more in your front yard, moving backyard activities like bbqing to the front. By utilizing our front yard more often, we’ll make them friendly places to greet our neighbors while they are out on a stroll.
If you have also been entertaining ways to get to know your neighbors better, and make your neighborhood more inviting, consider establishing a little space out front to unwind and enjoy the outdoors. If you’ve already set up a gathering spot in your front yard, or are gardening more within your front yard landscaping, I’d love to hear your experience. What worked out really well for you? Are you talking to your neighbors more often? What didn’t work out as expected? Please share in the comment section.
* A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped out with Community Service Day 2016. Coordinators for this year’s project were Julie Barrows and Sara Katayama. Participants of CSD 2016: Andrea Iverson, Chad Dierickx, Cherrie Lee, Codi Nelson, Cynthia Schoonmaker, Daniel Marinello, Denise Coe, Doug McKiernan, Emily Roberts, Erin Ewing, Fred Fox, Ina Bahner, Jake Kanev, Jane Malone, Jay Agoado, Joe Liu, Julie Wilson, Kathryn Buchanan, Kathryn Lerner, Kelly Weisfield, Larry Williams, Lis Brown, Marianne Parks, Melissa Boucher, Michelle Rubin, Molly Neary, Nancy LaVallee, Nikki Demers-Changelo, Peni Schwartz, Rachel Schindler, Robyn Kimura-Hsu, Sandy Yin, Seamus Pelan, Tom Fine, Megan & Cooper Hand, Karin Spencer, Sara Katayama, Julie Barrows, Lisa Lewis, Jenn Craven and Robert Craven.