Why You Should Host December Drinks, The Chronicle/The Queanbeyan Age, Tuesday 6 December 2016
The other day, I was thinking about the many ways our neighbours have helped us. They’ve loaned us lawnmowers and camping tents, looked after a child when another suddenly had to be taken to the emergency room, and helped locate our dog when he snuck under the fence.
But as a society, we’re less likely to know our neighbours than in the past. One survey asked people to count the number of neighbours of whom they could ask a small favour. The average answer given in the 2000s was 1½ fewer people than when a similar survey was done in the 1980s. Another question asked people how many neighbours they had on whom they could drop in uninvited. This time, respondents reported an average of three fewer close neighbours than in the 1980s.
What can we do about it? For the past decade or so, our family has organised December drinks for our local street. We pick a date, type up a simple invitation, and invite people to join us in our backyard for drinks and nibbles.
As it happens, we quite like our neighbours. But December drinks would be worthwhile even if we didn’t. A friendlier neighbourhood is a safer and happier place to live. Reuniting with old-timers and getting to know the new arrivals is an activity that pays off for the rest of the year.
So why not consider inviting your neighbours over for a summer drink? Tis the season – to get connected.
Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fenner, and the author of Disconnected.