• Don Everts

Meeting Surprise Neighbors in a Los Angeles Neighborhood

Folks in the Hopeful Neighborhood Network are convinced that meeting your neighbors is both important and fun. You can’t encourage neighbors to share their gifts if you don’t know them, so meeting your neighbors is important. But meeting your neighbors also tends to be enjoyable and interesting and, sometimes, really surprising. You never know who might be living just a few doors down from you.

Take, for example, the story of two families living in a Los Angeles neighborhood: the Stroms and the Njotens. These families live four houses away from each other, but never got to know each other beyond polite waves and occasional “hellos” – until the quarantine this last spring.

With families suddenly staying at home because of state-wide stay-at-home orders, people in the neighborhood had an impromptu “get together” (all at safe distances) where Erik and Jen Strom and Kjetil and Zoe Njoten started talking about their shared Norwegian heritage.

What began as a pleasant surprise (we have the same Norwegian heritage!) eventually turned into an important discovery: they were actually related! After checking with relatives to confirm their initial curiosity, they found out that Kjetil Njoten and Erik Strom have the same great-great grandfather. And it turns out that distant relative had lived in the very house that Kjetil grew up in!

The Strom’s daughter and the Njoten’s son were thrilled to find out they have a cousin living just a few houses away. It turns out, you never know who might be living just a few doors down from you.

I may not be related to anyone in my neighborhood, but this story does make me wonder what joyful surprises might be awaiting me right here in my neighborhood. What important, joyful discoveries might you make by meeting more of your own neighbors? There’s just one way to find out.


(Information for this blog taken from “These neighbors hadn't met until quarantine. Only then did they realize they're related” by David Williams posted on cnn.com on the April 28, 2020.)

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