Do you ever find yourself waving to that semi-familiar-looking family down the street…but you’ve never actually taken the time to introduce yourself? Use this idea to make your community safer and brighter – and get to know the people you live near but may not often interact with.

A great time to perform this service is at the beginning of spring after the long, dark winter nights have left many outside lights extinguished.  

You can do this activity solo, with your family, or with a group of neighbors. Arm each person with several boxes of fresh light bulbs, empty plastic bags or boxes to hold burned out bulbs, and a pair of lightweight gloves to use while handling hot bulbs. Make sure to carry light bulbs of varying wattages to cover different models of lighting fixtures.   

Then, walk your neighborhood streets, approaching each resident one by one and offering to replace burnt-out light bulbs on their porch, driveway, etc. At each door, present the friendly explanation of a chance to introduce yourselves, as well as the benefits of brighter streets (such as increased safety) in your community. If a home’s porch lights aren’t visibly extinguished, stop to offer your services anyway – don’t miss the opportunity to say hello to a neighbor…besides, perhaps their back porch light is burnt out! 

Don’t be surprised if some of the people you meet ask if you could replace the bulbs inside, too! Perhaps an elderly person just can’t get up to the attic to replace a bulb. Have extra bulbs on hand, or offer to come back at a later time to help. 

Instant Intentions: Keep a small notebook with you, and after leaving a house, discreetly write the names, addresses, and any info you learned from the neighbors you just met. That way, the next time you meet, you’ll be able to greet them by name and ask how things are going, using specific details (i.e. How did Jimmy’s baseball game on Sunday go?) It’s those little things that can mean the most in forming a closer relationship. 

 - From the book, Field Guide to Neighborhood Outreach by Group Publishing, 2007. 

Note that at this time of year, another great service would be to assist your neighbors with taking down Christmas lights and decorations. – Lisa Jaeger