We should never underestimate the power of the neighbourhood and how simple community actions can change disaster to hope, dictatorship to democracy, isolation to engagement.
These last few weeks we have seen the power of local action resonate around the world but it has to be said that for many people, involvement with their local neighbourhood is, well, far from what it should be. A cuppa and a chat next door is, in many places, a thing of the past with next-door-neighbours simply strangers who share the same postcode. The excuse? Mostly the excuses are reasons for not going round - that we're busy, we work odd hours, there's a lot going on, they're not around when we are and so on. Often what we need is an excuse to go round in the first place and break the ice.
An inspired 'excuse' that helps us to reconnect with our neighbours in New Zealand will be running this weekend. Neighbours' Day, an initiative by Lifewise, has gained remarkable traction and hopefully, this coming Saturday and Sunday will see people popping in and out of neighbouring houses, enjoying street parties and other events designed to stimulate local community engagement.
In times of trouble - and I can't help but think of Christchurch and its suburbs here - our neighbours are the first people we will need to both help and depend on. Surely though we should be involved in untroubled times as well?
In our uber-connected lifestyles, we are often better friends with people we have never met on Twitter or Facebook than we are with the people next door. I know that I for one will switch off the net next weekend and head down the road armed with muffins and a determination to get to know the whole street that little bit better. If you want to do the same, then you'll find a raft of ideas and suggestions here. You never know, we might just bump into each other en route.