Tag Archives: conflict resolution

Being a Good Neighbor

I’ve always wanted to be an integral part of a community.  Living in a Habitat neighborhood I feel like I have a great opportunity to be part of something really special.

We’ve all been through a pretty extensive screening and application process, followed by a whole lot of hard work including classes, construction hours, working at the resale store, and whatever else we’ve been asked to do to earn our place as a homebuyer.  This experience gives us common ground that most neighbors don’t have.  We are already part of an extended family of sorts.

And in my two months of residence, I can see that some of the interactions resemble family as well, with some bickering and bitterness, some strained relationships and some difficult situations.  I feel like I can be a peacemaker, being new.  No one really likes or dislikes me yet; I’m not on either side of anyone’s fence.  And I don’t intend to be.  I’d like to stay on the side of reason and compassion, if that is possible.  Never having been in this sort of intimate relationship with a neighborhood before, I don’t know how much of my intention is naive, but one has to start somewhere, and I think starting with high hopes isn’t the worst idea.

Habitat has built about 25 homes in this subdivision and there are 3 more to go.  After that, they will pull out and leave us to our own devices, a neighborhood governed by our own homeowners group.

At my first meeting of the homeowners, I saw a lot of hesitation and concern that the Habitat representative hadn’t shown up yet.  There was a lot of anxiety expressed about issues that might give us trouble once we could no longer count on a Habitat rep to be present.  I don’t share in this sentiment at all.  At the present moment, I feel confident that we can resolve our issues and even accomplish projects that we agree are important if we keep communicating and remember our common interest as residents.  I feel like I can be instrumental in this process.

One idea I have that I want to think through before I suggest it is to have a Facebook group for our neighborhood.  I feel like the only way people communicate right now is on the street (which granted is the very best way, face to face, but is somewhat haphazard), through snail mail or email that Habitat sends out, or in our every-other-month meetings, which seems to be a very slow way to get a message out.

If we had a Facebook group, I think it should be closed to the public, of course.  Members wouldn’t even have to be friends with each other on Facebook, so if there were animosity between people they wouldn’t be opening themselves up to someone they wanted to avoid.

Its purpose would be quick communication: posting something for sale, announcing a meeting or a neighborhood clean-up, sharing a good deal you found at Home Depot or some other homeowner-related treasure, things of this nature.  I think there might also be a way to resolve some conflicts if there were an administrator function whereby a member could tell the admin a problem they were having, say with someone’s dog, and the admin could post a general reminder that the city has a leash law, or some such.  Like a first line of defense against a conflict becoming full-blown.

I can see the whole thing turning ugly, but with an admin on top of it, deleting any thoughtless comment someone might make, it might be more useful than harmful.  Anyway, just the first idea that popped up.  I’ve got another month and a half to think it through before I can bring it up at the next meeting…