When I moved to St. Louis from Detroit a few years ago, I was eager to get connected in my new neighborhood. One of the first resources I found was a community directory that our local business district compiled and printed every year. It included a list of businesses, local resources and non-profits, churches, a calendar of events, and a full page of important contacts for common neighborhood questions and concerns. What a handy tool! This little booklet guided me through my first several months as a new neighbor.
Whether you are new to a neighborhood or you have lived there for years, I highly recommend tracking down a community directory. You can check with your local chamber of commerce, business district, neighborhood association, or Facebook/Nextdoor groups to see if such a resource exists. My new state representative started sending out directories to constituents this year, so that is another possibility. Make sure you request extra copies so that you can deliver some to new neighbors who move to your block.
You can turn this into a fun family activity. Once you have secured a community directory, either in print or online, choose a different local business, event, or neighborhood group to support each month. Introduce yourself to the staff or event hosts and let them know how you found them. If you have a great experience, write a nice Google or Yelp review. If you have a bad experience, contact the establishment directly and kindly share your experience so they can learn and grow.
If finances or other realities are a barrier, there are still ways to support your local network. Find a business or non-profit’s social media channels to give them a follow and share. If visitors to your community ask for recommendations, direct them to a local business. A simple word of encouragement might be exactly what a fledgling business needs from a kind neighbor.
Does your neighborhood have a directory? If so, what surprising resources have you discovered from it?