Updated: Feb 27
During one particularly harsh winter, I worried about my house-bound neighbor. I wondered if the cold temperatures and snow had kept her from getting the supplies and care she and her dogs needed. I couldn’t call her on the phone because I didn’t have her number. Instead, I bundled myself up in full winter gear, knocked on her front door, and stopped by for a quick well-check.
Thankfully, everything was fine. I asked for her phone number then and there and saved it in my phone. When the next winter storm hit, I could easily give my neighbor a quick call to see how she was doing. Living in proximity with other households doesn’t always mean close connection. It helps to have our neighbors’ phone numbers handy.
One convenient way to share phone numbers among neighborhood households is to create a neighborhood directory. With the permission of participating neighbors, contact information can be compiled into a convenient printed or digital resource. Here are three tips on how to create a neighborhood directory.
1.) Keep it safe. The directory, whether printed or digital, should be shared exclusively among neighbors, not publicized. Limit distribution to your nearest neighbors as in the families living on the same floor of your building, or just the people on your block. Names, birthdays, and contact information of people under the age of 18 should not be included in order to protect the safety of minors. There are countless reasons why families may want to keep their contact information private, so make sure their privacy is respected.
2.) Make it easy. Print directory request forms on paper and distribute them to your most immediate neighbors. Clearly explain how and when you plan to collect the information later. One convenient way might be to collect contact information at a neighborhood block party or neighborhood yard sale. Or you could make your email address available for neighbors to simply email you their information. You can either download the template below or create your own form. This form was created with inspiration from the Handbook for Block Leaders from Texas-based Community Renewal Austin.
3.) Share offers to help. Consider asking neighbors how they can be available to help other neighbors. Include a checklist on your directory request forms of the different ways neighbors might lend a hand. I can help with [ ] snow removal, [ ] child care, [ ] pet care, [ ] transportation, [ ] yard work, or [ ] ______. There may be neighbors around you who are willing and able to help; they just don’t know who or when to help. You can compile lists of the names and numbers of yard helpers, pet helpers, etc., to include in your private neighborhood directory. It’s a great way to see at a glance what an amazing resource our connected neighbors are to our neighborhood.
What would having a neighborhood directory mean to you? How could you see a neighborhood directory coming in handy? What tips would you add when it comes to creating and distributing a neighborhood directory?
Neighborhood Directory Request
I’m creating a neighborhood directory in order to better connect the families on our street, _______________ . It will help us reach out to one another with love and care.
You can be included in the neighborhood directory by filling in your contact information on this form and returning it to me via email or regular mail. Find my contact information below.
Please include contact information for adults ages 18 and over who live in your home. You are invited to include the amount of information that feels comfortable to you. To protect our youngest neighbors, please don’t include the information for children living with you.
I will distribute our new neighborhood directories in a few weeks!