Welcome Home: 10 Tips to Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Hometown Haven

Hometown Haven

“Communities work better (students perform better, crime rates are lower, kids are safer, people live longer) when neighbors know one another better. Knowing your neighbor on a first-name basis…is a surprisingly effective first step.”
Robert Putnam, Harvard Public Policy Professor and author of Bowling Alone

While advancements in technology have made it possible for us to connect with people from around the world, numerous studies show that it has led to a decline in face-to-face interactions.1

Places where we used to strike up casual conversations—such as a doctor’s office waiting room, bus stop or grocery line—are now filled with people looking at their smart phones, barely acknowledging those around them.

Even many families dining together or relaxing in the evenings can be caught spending more time focused on screens than each other. Is it any surprise that we’ve experienced a steady decline in community involvement?

In his book Bowling Alone, Harvard Public Policy Professor Robert Putnam “draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often.”2

How is this shift impacting our overall well being? A study by Oregon Health & Science University researchers found that having limited face-to-face social contact nearly doubles an individual’s risk of depression.3

CONNECTING WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

If you’re considering a move to a new city or neighborhood, you may be worried about replacing the comfort and support of family and friends you’ll leave behind. Or perhaps you have completed a move but would like to meet more people, build friendships and strengthen your support system.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 10 ways you can utilize technology to foster in-person connections with your neighbors, make friends and get engaged in your local community.

  1. JOIN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD’S SOCIAL NETWORK

A growing number of neighborhoods are utilizing private social networks like U.S.-based Nextdoor and Canadian-based GoNeighbour. These platforms are designed specifically to connect neighbors and include an address verification process.

Residents post about a variety of topics, including neighborhood news, recommendations for local businesses, lost pets, etc. These platforms are a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your neighborhood, but don’t just use them to connect virtually. Extend an invitation to your neighbors to attend an in-person event, such as a park playdate for families, an informal soccer game or a potluck block party.

  1. ATTEND A PLACE OF WORSHIP

If you have a religious affiliation, joining a local place of worship is great way to meet people and get involved in your community. Aside from attending services, most religious institutions also host extracurricular activities to foster fellowship amongst the congregation.

Whether you are looking to join a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, there are a variety of online resources available to help you find a match in your area, including:

To make the most of your affiliation, look for opportunities to meet in smaller group settings. It’s a great way to form interpersonal relationships with people who share your beliefs and values.

  1. FIND AN INTEREST GROUP

Whatever your favorite hobby or pastime, you’re guaranteed to meet people who share your interests when you join an interest group!

The website Meetup.com has over 32 million members in 288,000 groups in 182 countries. You can search for a group in your area that appeals to you … from book clubs to running groups to professional networking, they have it all.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can start your own group for a monthly fee. The site makes it easy to ask (or require) members to pitch in to cover the cost. It also enables you to promote a corporate sponsor on your page, so you may be able to find a local business to cover the cost.

Most people who join Meetup are there for the same reason you are … to meet people who share their interests. So it’s a great place to make like-minded friends in your community.

  1. LEND A HAND

Volunteering your time and talents is another good way to get engaged in your community and meet those who share a similar mission.

Most nonprofit organizations rely heavily on volunteers. Find one with a cause you’re passionate about by visiting VolunteerMatch.

You can search by cause, location and keywords, and filter your results to include opportunities that are suitable for kids, seniors or groups. Another option is to search for volunteer positions that require specialized skills. Perhaps you’re musical or maybe you’re good with computers. There could be an organization in your area that needs your talents or skills.

Lotsa Helping Hands is another site focused on connecting volunteers with those in need. Members can request help or search for opportunities to assist others in their area. Most of the volunteer opportunities involve aiding neighbors who are ill or elderly by delivering meals, offering rides to appointments or just stopping by for a visit. This can be a great way to make a direct impact on your neighbors who need a helping hand!

  1. TAKE A CLASS

Taking a class is a wonderful way to develop a skill while meeting people who share your interests and passion for learning.

Whether you want to brush up on your Spanish, finish your novel, or learn how to tango, most community colleges offer inexpensive, non-credit classes on a variety of topics.

And if you are pursuing a degree, forego taking your courses online. Opt for the traditional route instead. There’s no substitute for being part of a live community of your peers.

To search for a community college in your area, visit the American Association of Community Colleges or SchoolsInCanada.com.

  1. ATTEND AN EVENT

Attending a live event is another way to engage with members of your community. From festivals to fundraisers to retreats, Eventbrite is a great place to search for events in your area. You can filter your search by category, event type, date and price to find something that fits your interests, schedule and budget.

Be strategic about the type of event you choose. For example, while attending a large festival might be a fun way to feel engaged with your community, it might also be harder to meet people. A retreat or a networking event may offer more opportunities for one-on-one interaction.

  1. SHARE YOUR STUFF

Everyone’s talking about the rise of the “sharing economy” with the popularity of Uber and Airbnb. But there’s also been a rise in “sharing communities,” which facilitate the free exchange of goods among neighbors to reduce consumption and keep usable items out of landfills.

Nonprofit groups like The Freecycle Network are made up of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. Members can post “offers” of free items or “wanted” items they need.

The company Peerby has a similar goal of reducing consumption by encouraging neighbors to lend and borrow items they don’t often use. For example, you can offer to share your blender, rake or ladder. Maybe you need to borrow a drill, cake pan or moving trolley. Peerby enables you to request items to borrow from your neighbors and encourages you to register items you are willing to lend.

The Little Free Library is another innovative way neighbors are participating in a sharing community. Stewards build or purchase a box to house the library and fill it with books they are willing to give away. The library is usually placed in their front yard or in a public outdoor space. Visitors are encouraged to take a book they’d like to read, and in exchange leave a book for someone else to enjoy. With over 60,000 libraries in 80 countries, the organization estimates millions of books are exchanged annually among neighbors.

  1. SUPPORT A COMMUNITY GARDEN

 Community gardens have become increasingly popular in both urban and rural areas across North America. Not only do they beautify a neighborhood, they also foster community, encourage self-reliance, reduce family food budgets, conserve resources, and provide opportunities for recreation and exercise.

The mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada. The organization’s website enables you to search for existing community gardens in your area. If there isn’t one nearby, you might considering starting one. The site provides helpful tips and resources for organizing a garden in your neighborhood.

  1. CARPOOL WITH A COWORKER

In the spirit of joining a “sharing community,” carpooling offers many similar benefits. It presents an opportunity to form a bond with coworkers and/or neighbors during your daily commute. Additionally, you can save money on gas, reduce wear-and-tear on your vehicle, lower carbon emissions, and in many cities reduce your commute time by taking advantage of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) travel lanes.

The success of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft has spurred a new wave of carpooling websites and apps that aim to revolutionize the way we commute by making it easier and more convenient to carpool. While many of these are still in their infancy stages, they are expanding into new markets and improving functionality at a rapid pace.

Kangaride Local, Scoop and Waze Carpool are just a few examples, and more are popping up every day. They are currently available in limited markets throughout the United States and Canada, but are becoming prevalent in more cities as residents opt-in. Check to see if any of these are available in your local area.

Alternatively, you can try posting on your neighborhood’s social network to see if one or more of your neighbors are commuting to a nearby location. Take turns driving and start benefiting from all that carpooling has to offer!

  1. PARTICIPATE IN WORLD NEIGHBORS DAY

The organizers behind World Neighbors Day promote it as “an invitation to share a moment with your neighbors, to get to know each other better and develop a real sense of community.”

In Canada it’s held on the second Saturday in June, and in the United States it’s held on the third Sunday in September. Participants are encouraged to organize gatherings with their neighbors to build relationships that “form the fabric of our communities.”

You can participate by attending or organizing a gathering in your neighborhood. Examples include: a block party, outdoor movie screening, book exchange, charity bake sale, volleyball game, etc. Anything that brings neighbors together in a fun and relaxed setting is a good choice!

Gatherings can be promoted through your neighborhood’s social media network, blog or listserv, or you can go the old-fashioned route and hand out flyers door-to-door. Whatever you do, be sure to make your gathering inclusive and welcoming to all.

BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR

 As with anything in life, you will get out what you put in. It can take time to build lasting and meaningful friendships with your neighbors, but the effort you make is likely to pay off tenfold.

The tried-and-true way to make friends, expand your circle, grow your support system and get engaged in your community? Be a good neighbor yourself.

What are the best ways you’ve found to meet and engage with your neighbors? Share your success stories or challenges in the comments below!

Sources:

  1. Lengacher, L. (2015) Mobile Technology: Its Effect on Face-to-Face Communication and Interpersonal Interaction. Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences –  
    http://www.kon.org/urc/v14/lengacher.html
  2. Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone. New York: Simon & Schuster –
    http://bowlingalone.com/
  3. Bergland, C. (2015 October 5) Face-to-Face Social Contact Reduces Risk of Depression. Psychology Today
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201510/face-face-social-contact-reduces-risk-depression

Historic St Petersburg Neighborhoods

Pink streets and red brick roads, towering oak and palm canopies, an Indian burial ground and a flowing creek are just some of the surprising features of these St Petersburg neighborhoods that charm residents and visitors alike.

Meet some of the residents and enjoy the history, beauty and uniqueness of the Pink Streets, Driftwood and Roser Park neighborhoods.

Enjoy this terrific video.

 

via www.VisitStPeteClearwater.com 

 

Welcome Home To Historic Kenwood

Located just west of downtown St. Petersburg, Historic Kenwood is a charming neighborhood filled with historic bungalows and tree-lined brick streets, where residents enthusiastically embrace the arts, and actively cultivate an authentic, friendly culture where people are welcoming, diverse, and engaged.

Historic KenwoodThe neighborhood association actively promotes a wide range of activities aimed at making Historic Kenwood a better and better place to live and work.

The Kenwood Historic District is a 375-acre residential area best known for its historic bungalows with architecture typical of St. Petersburg in the 1920s through the 1950s. A housing survey completed in 1995 identified 1104 structures in Historic Kenwood. Of these, 95% are considered contributing structures to their official entry in the National Registry of Historic Places. Although almost 100 years have passed since the original development of Historic Kenwood, very few homes have been destroyed and most renovations have kept the architectural integrity of the original structures intact.

A Historic Kenwood Christmas

The neighborhood is greatly enriched by the artists who live, work, and sell their wares here. Here you’ll find galleries and working studios in the Grand Central District on on the southern border. Throughout Historic Kenwood, you’ll find painters, potters, quilters, jazz musicians, opera singers, concert pianists, writers, poets, dancers, and many others living in our midst. This is a more vibrant, creative community because it embraces the arts and their artists. In Oct. 2014, they became an Artist Enclave Overlay District, in which artists benefit by being able to work, teach, and sell their wares in home studios.

We would love to help you find the perfect home in this wonderful neighborhood.  Please give us a call… 727-895-6200.

Information and photos via http://www.historickenwood.org 

Welcome To Our Neighborhood: Driftwood

Driftwood Neighborhood

The Driftwood Neighborhood on the northern edge of St Petersburg’s Big Bayou provides history and a hidden creative community for residents.

Driftwood is a neighborhood that draws like-minded creative types: artists and teachers, writers and poets, actors and theater people.

There were 19 original homes built in the 1930s in the enclave surrounding the Mullet Farm, which was built in 1910 by shipbuilder Barney Williams, who was the son of John Williams, a co-founder of St. Petersburg and namesake of Williams Park.

Big BayouDriftwood’s colorful past makes it all that much more appealing to its bohemian residents. It was once a landing site for bootleggers smuggling in alcohol during Prohibition. It also claims the distinction, detailed in a historic marker, of being the only site in Pinellas County that was fired upon during the Civil War.

All sorts of artifacts have been unearthed in Driftwood. A shell fort believed to have been used by American Indians. A Civil War cannonball. An old rosary box. Prehistoric stone tools and arrowheads. Items continue to be found in periodic archaeological digs in the neighborhood.

Driftwood NeighborhoodThe arching Driftwood sign sits at the main entrance of the neighborhood off First Street SE, about a block beyond is a wooden gate that displays a “No Trespassing” sign. Beyond the gate is a short, canopied path leading to a wooden landing at the Big Bayou water’s edge. From the lawn chairs scattered about on it, one could see across the bayou to Coquina Key and beyond the inlet, the expanse of Tampa Bay.

The path and the view at the end of it are communal property, giving all residents a bit of “waterfront property” on this little tropical slice of heaven.

Partial Edited Reprint from Tampa Bay Times. Patti Ewald is a freelance journalist living in Gulfport. Contact her at pagewald@hotmail.com.

 

St. Petersburg Rocks!

 

St Petersburg's Fun Facts

St.Petersburg is gaining more and more traction as one of the most popular mid-sized cities in the U.S. From corporate relocations and multi-family development to arts to craft beers and trendy dining. Here are some April articles/posts singing the Burg’s accolades.

To begin, here are 50 cool facts you probably didn’t know about St. Petersburg…
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St Petersburg is a Hip DestinationSt. Pete gaining global fame as a hip destination.  According to a British newspaper, “Miami now has a rival for the finer things.”  St. Petersburg, Fla. — not Russia — made The New York Times list of 52 destinations in the world to see in 2014, ranking the city among exotic and famed urban centers such as Dubai and Athens.  “The Sunshine City” has reinvented its reputation.

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St. Petersburg HipstersHipsters take over St. Petersburg ~The Globe & Mail. In the past few years, though, the arts scene in St. Petersburg has become rather hip, and there is a proliferation of new art happenings and events that are helping redefine the city – and bringing in a fun, young vibe. In St. Petersburg’s old industrial area, artists and craftspeople have set up work spaces, and consequently the area has been relabelled the Warehouse Arts District. Because looking at art is thirsty work, you’ll be glad to know that the craft beer scene in St. Petersburg is growing.

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St Petersburg Will Have 2 Downtown Grocery StoresA downtown capable of hosting two full-blown grocery stores is ample proof that St. Petersburg’s urban core has hit a critical mass in the eyes of a supermarket industry that thinks long and hard before opening new stores.

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Welcome to the Crescent Heights Neighborhood

Crescent HeightsThe Crescent Heights neighborhood with its brick streets, hex-block sidewalks, acorn lights, and old shade trees, is located just north of Crescent Lake Park, bounded on the South by 22nd Ave N, on the North by 30th Ave N, on the East by 4th St N, and on the West by 9th St N (also known as MLK St).

The neighborhood consists of several subdivisions mostly platted in the 1920’s. Consistent with the standards of the time, the subdivisions largely continued the city’s grid system through the neighborhood. However there are minor variations in lot sizes, street widths and alley configurations depending on the particular developer’s preferences.

Despite the fact that Crescent Heights was built-out over a 40-year period, which provides a pleasant variety in the architectural styles, there is a consistent overall character and scale to the neighborhood. Enhancing this architectural character is the mature landscaping throughout the neighborhood.

The neighborhood is bordered at its southern edge by the 48 acre Crescent Lake Park featuring Crescent Lake. from which the neighborhood derives its name. Although officially outside Crescent Heights Neighborhood’s boundaries, the park is heavily used by neighborhood residents.

 

Welcome to the Crescent Lake Neighborhood

Crescent Lake lies at the center of this beautiful neighborhood, surrounded by a manicured 56-acre public park. East of the lake is the “Great Banyan Tree”, a living “jungle gym” for generations of our children. It is featured on the neighborhood logo. To the south is Huggins-Stengel Field, once Spring Training home for the New York Yankees and now serving the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Further south still is the neighborhood’s most visible landmark, a 1923 water tower, recently repainted as a giant salt water aquarium by local muralist, Tom Stovall.

Crescent Lake NeighborhoodEast and west of the park, residential streets, some with brick paving and hex-block sidewalks, slumber beneath stately trees. Nearly every street has a view of the lake. Beyond the residential sections lie busy 4th and 9th (Dr. M. L. King) Streets North. New businesses along these streets are rapidly transforming our area into an antique shopper’s Mecca.

The Crescent Lake Neighborhood is located one mile north of St.Petersburg’s central business district and is a short drive from shopping, restaurants, medical facilities, waterfront parks and the interstate.

The architecture of Crescent Lake is an eclectic mix of early and mid-twentieth century styles. Early styles include Foursquare, Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco and Tudor. Eighth Street has a particularly fine collection of 1920s Tudor houses. Later styles include Minimal Traditional, Postwar and Ranch. Along the lake are some early Ranch-type houses dating from the late 1930s.

The buildings are diverse in form as well as style. The housing stock includes single-family homes, garage apartments and small multi-family structures. Businesses along 9th Street occupy large converted dwellings, helping this busy street retain the air of the grand residential boulevard that it once was. 

A cypress dugout canoe dredged from Crescent Lake in 1924, provided evidence of a Native American presence in the neighborhood. The canoe, now in the Museum of History, is thought to date from about 1800.

In the 1870s and 1880s, settlers of European origin arrived and put the land to agricultural use, chiefly citrus groves. This way of life did not last long. With the completion of a streetcar line out 9th Street to 34th Avenue in 1914, the groves became valuable suburban property and subdividing began.

The opening of Crescent Lake Park in 1927, heightened the neighborhood’s appeal. The park was the brainchild of master developer Perry Snell, who acquired and held the necessary parcels until the city was able to buy them. Shortly after the park opened, the city built a ballfield for the New York Yankees at the south end, ensuring that national sports figures like Babe Ruth, Lou Gerhig and Joe DiMaggio would join a long list of local business and civic leaders who have been our neighbors.

The neighborhood acquired its final form just before World War II, when palm-lined drives went in alongside the lake. The building boom that gripped St. Petersburg and the nation immediately following that war quickly filled all remaining lots.

Because of its natural beauty, the neighborhood has remained popular. Renewed strength in the current decade, evidenced by the growth of the Crescent Lake Neighborhood Association and the adoption of the Crescent Lake Neighborhood Plan, has led to greater visibility for the neighborhood, higher property values, restoration of aging structures, and a higher standard of maintenance. The future looks bright.

Info via Crescent Lake Neighborhood Association

If you would like to learn more about the Crescent Lake neighborhood, please give us a call… we’d love to present it to your first hand. 727-895-6200