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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Get To Know Your Neighbors

In 2003, I wrote a letter to the Dallas Morning News right before Halloween. My children were little and I remember how excited they were the whole month of October to dress up for the holiday. I think each of my boys had 3 different costumes.

For me, Halloween in our neighborhood was a chance to visit with neighbors, some of them I only saw on that holiday. Shame on me.

So I decide to write a letter to the editor to make the point.

Here is the article that was published in the Dallas Morning News on October 17, 2003

The Plano community includes so many people who are transplants from different places across the United States. You hear so many people say that they live here without family close by.

Too many people in Plano don't know their neighbors or they feel intimidated by the accomplishments of others in the community.

I don't think people mean to complain that they are lonely, isolated or disconnected from our community. They genuinely feel that way. We all struggle for connection, but what are we willing to do about it?

The Plano community provides many opportunities to get to know your neighbors. If you feel like you don't know enough people, start reaching out. When we first moved into our neighborhood as a married couple with two small children, we met some of our neighbors right away. We appreciated that they wanted to get to know us and help us feel welcome in our new neighborhood.

Within a year our family grew to three children, and our lives got hectic as a two-income family without enough hours in the day. Even though we knew a handful of our neighbors, there were still people who lived a soccer kick away whom we didn't know and never saw.

That wasn't their fault. It was our fault if we didn't make the effort to stop and introduce ourselves when the opportunity presented itself.

If you go to a community event or you are walking through your neighborhood and you don't take the opportunity to introduce yourself and get to know each other, you will feel isolated.

If you go to your garage, get in your car and rarely step foot outside your home for more than the short time it takes to get your mail, then you will live an isolated existence. If you have the perception that people don't want to get to know you and that you have nothing in common, then you will go years not knowing very much about the people living right down the street.

Three years ago, our next-door neighbor met a man in an elevator in New York on a business trip. They talked between the first floor and the 20th floor. They found out in that short time that they lived across the street from each other in Plano. They were glad that they met each other and humbled that it happened the way it did.

Whom are you missing that you could meet right at your back door? If you feel as if you haven't grown roots in this community, go to the Balloon Festival and take the opportunity to meet five people. Plan to ride the DART rail from Plano to an event in downtown Dallas and strike up a conversation with the people waiting with you.

At the local grocery store, notice people wearing something from your alma mater and tell them you went there too. Talk to a Boy Scout who is with his parent collecting canned goods in your neighborhood. Don't wait until you are in an elevator to find out that you have some things in common with someone you originally thought was a stranger.

Susan Fletcher of Plano is a licensed psychologist with three sons, including two who are elementary school students. She also is a recent graduate of Leadership Plano.

Until next time,

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