Point of View: Make March ‘Meet Your Neighbor’ Month

The light is coming back, the snow is slowly melting, and we are starting to see more people out and about. March is such a unique time: a rediscovery of things lost under the snow, a fervor for garden prep, summer trips to be planned and reconnecting with those you may not have seen in a while. We are also trying to perhaps understand how we have changed during COVID-19.

In a sense, we may be rediscovering ourselves. You’re not alone. We are trying to grapple with what is different and what is the same. Beyond the natural and new transitions that this March has brought, this month is also Mr. Rogers’ Birthday. Mr. Rogers taught us that the best way to navigate change and rediscovery is to do it alongside our neighbors. The Southern Kenai Peninsula Resilience Coalition (SKPRC) wants to take the opportunities that March brings to celebrate and reconnect with our Homer neighborhoods.

We have decided to call March “Meet Your Neighbor” Month. The SKPRC has partnered with several local organizations, like South Peninsula Hospital, Homer Public Library, Haven House and Sprout, to offer different ways to connect with your neighbors. You can go for a walk with a neighbor at Saturday’s Wellness Walk, spend time doing yoga with a friend, meet other families virtually for neighborhood story time, or maybe meet a member of the SKP Resilience Coalition during their walkabouts this month.

Alaskans know the importance of being there for one another. Whether in bush Alaska or on the road system, we lean on our community to get through the tough times and to celebrate the good. You might carry a tow strap in your truck, house sit while a friend is outside, or just bring a plate of freshly baked treats to the folks next door. That is what being a neighbor is all about — showing up for your community.

Meet your Neighbor Month celebrates what it means to be an Alaskan. We invite you to be a part of this effort, both at home and at work, to reconnect with and rediscover your neighborhood. As Mr. Rogers said, “Each of us has something valuable to bring to the world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors.”

So, as you go about meeting your neighbors, remember everyone has a story to share. And in those stories, you may find something surprising and wonderful. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Red Asselin of Sprout and Kyle Darbonne of Haven House are part of the Southern Kenai Peninsula Resilience Coalition Work Group.

MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) is a local health improvement coalition with the vision of a proactive, resilient and innovative community.