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The Orchid

I have a little orchid.  You know them; the supermarket has them in a small pot and their flowers usually last for a long time if you give the plant a little water once a week.  I love my little orchid because it was gifted to me by a neighbor.  It arrived in my life at just the time when I needed the most to meet kindness.  And now, a year and a half later, it is blooming again.

We passed through this neighbor’s ‘hood when we were getting ourselves ready for downsizing, preparing for the post-children part of life.  After 20 years at the same address, we were moving on.  And in the middle of the uncertainty about where we were moving to, we met kindness.

We rented a townhouse to check if we wanted to live that way or would perhaps prefer a condo.  By pure chance, in the middle of the pandemic, we ended up in the most warm and friendly neighborhood.  I don’t know if the neighbors were all friends, I don’t think so, but some of the people in “our block” met once a week in the driveway for social distanced “bring your own chair and drink”.

A while back, somebody had initiated a Google group so people who had a problem, or something to offer, could reach out to their neighbors.  By living in townhouses built in the same period with a variety of layouts, they would ask what others had done with window replacements, remodels, the HVAC, good contractor and service names, … or holler when takeout or packets had been delivered to the wrong address, pass on children’s bikes, games, movies, books, furniture, …   If a neighbor could use something that otherwise would go to a charity, they were welcome to it.  I thought I had come from a friendly neighborhood with block parties and people stopping to chat in the street, but this was a step up.

We ended up in another townhouse community where nothing like this exists – yet.  Dennis’ cry to “be the change we want to see in the world”, along with the new flowers on my little orchid, will be my nudge to lift my new and more permanent neighborhood up to the same level as what I have seen can happen.  All it takes is somebody to set the ball in motion.  And as I already know the people around my driveway…

What is your neighborhood like?  Do you know your neighbors?  Do you use Nextdoor?  I don’t, but I am willing to discuss all methods in the comments.


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Charlotte Wittenkamp
Charlotte Wittenkamphttp://www.usdkexpats.org/
Charlotte Wittenkamp is an organizational psychologist who counsels international transfers, immigrants, and foreign students in overcoming culture shock. Originating from Denmark, where she worked in organizational development primarily in the finance industry, Charlotte has lived in California since 1998. Her own experiences relocating lead down a path of research into value systems and communication patterns. She shares this knowledge and experience through speaking and writing and on her website USDKExpats.org. Many of these “learning experiences” along with a context to put them in can be found in her book Building Bridges Across Cultural Differences, Why Don’t I Follow Your Norms?. On the side, she leads a multinational and multigenerational communication training group.

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