Coping: “Re-Neighboring”

A remarkable thing happened the other day in our discussion section:  A seniorly reader had a massive car failure and it was of the scale that wasn’t “recoverable.”

Amazingly, another reader, upon reading this, offered a free replacement car.  It’s no Escalade, but it’s the thought that counts.  Because, as we sink into the End of Everything, it’s important to remain connected to our core human values.

(Continues below)


I was pleased to provide a meeting ground for such an event.

To be sure there are others, including a whole collection of “go fun me” and “kick-starting” sites.  But, what made this unique was it wasn’t a money thing.  It was a human thing.  Hard to beat that.

A friend and co-worker from “back in the day” of rock & roll radio, Lan Roberts, came up with a dandy name for a non-judgmental, curious, ready-to-do good organization.

He called it P.R.O.N.E.  Short for Private Responsible Organization Bringing Effect.

His domain of interest was (*as was Lan’s style), a bit quirky:  He wanted to use PROBE to look into (among other things) the flurries of UFO reports in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1970’s.  You remember the Ken Arnold sighting that kicked off the term UFO was just over the Cascade Mountains in 1947?

As far as I know, PROBE never got properly organized, but it was his thinking-style that was so keen.

Given a question, he would think about all possible “citizen, direct-science” that could be brought to bear on a problem.

One morning, before I worked with him at KOL, he was at KJR (the other rock & roll powerhouse in Seattle, at the time) and he told listeners that perhaps UFO occupants might be listening to his morning show.

Taking this concept, he asked all of his listeners (a 30-share – meaning huge/dominant audience in Seattle) to turn up their car radios as loud at they could.

At 8:00 AM sharp, he turned off KJR’s transmitter.

I don’t remember how long exactly, but it was on the order of five minutes.

Anyone who has exposure to media (and money from ads) knows you don’t just “sign-off” the highest-rated morning radio show in Seattle during the peak of morning drive time.  But, that’s exactly what he did.

PROBE – and a ballsy curiosity of that type – has always been attractive to me.  It’s a better way of thinking.

For a host of reasons, not the least of which are divide and conquer social viruses – like #MeeToo’ers – people are cocooning today more than ever.

The problem isn’t so much knowing your neighbors.  It’s that IF THEY KNOW ANYTHING about you, it can and probably will be used against you.

A story in the headlines out of the overnight scans popped up as very much on point.  A Robert Frank column over on CNBC headlines “800,000 people are about to flee New York and California because of taxes, say economists.”

Earlier this year, Utah, Nevada, and Idaho were ranked the fastest-growing in the country per USA Today.

[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

QON: Quality of Neighbors

In a roundabout way, this circles me to this morning’s thought:  While we have found plenty of ways to monetize climate, sex, gender, age, race, religions, and most-everything else, we haven’t done an especially good jobs of neighboring.

When I lived in one of those “big houses in the suburbs” – which I did for more than a decade – I didn’t even know the people whose home was right out my front door, across the street and down half a lot.

The previous owner has been a Seattle Seahawk, but when his career moved him – after eight seasons in Seattle – I just somehow never got around to meeting the new owners.

As I’ve gotten older (lots older, come to think of it!), there are nagging little questions that pop up as you contemplate life.  “Who were those people?

Even here in rural East Texas, being “right neighborly” is something of a myth.

We don’t even know all the people who’s land abuts ours…and we’ve been in this ‘ol woods for  15-years, now.

I know how it happens, though.

Folks who owned the land out behind us promised to let us know when it came on the market.  But, when push came to shove, that didn’t happen, so away went our chance to expand to nearly 50-acres.

I was pissed (and still am) about that.

There’s an old joke about “soured neighbors.”

How mad are you at the neighbor?  Well, let’s just say that if they were away and I noticed their home was on fire, I’d be sure to send the Fire Department a letter, mentioning that fact.”

Just joking.  When comes down to cases, I did call the power company when their power lines were brought down by deadfall from a tree in a storm a while back.

Point is, though, that there are good neighbors – and not so much.

Up the hill from us is the nicest young couple in the world…part of a well-respected long-term family in the area.

Even so, well-respected long-term families don’t have a lot of time.  In Texas, even at the 15-year mark, we’re still eyed with some suspicion by locals.  We don’t get into town much, don’t have time for frou-frou, and since we came up with this “workstation” concept for our hobbies, there’s always more than enough to do.

When, less so than if, the economy hits the skids in a major way, I expect re-neighboring will begin.

We can produce tomatoes and squash brilliantly – or, at least, Elaine can.  Plants tend to wither and die in my presence.

But, some of our neighbors have grand corn fields.  And up the road a piece, there are some peach orchards that are amazing.

In the city?  Not sure how re-neighboring will work out.

Tools to make repairs are another thing that drove neighbors to connect during the last Depression.  There were plenty of Fix-It shops around.  If one person didn’t have a tool to fix something around the house, sometimes an obliging neighbor would have the tool…

This is where a lot of the good neighbor / bad neighbor stuff comes from.  My dad, having worked delivering papers in the Depression, and in the latter part, as a clerk in a cigar store, figured he would “test” neighbors.

Someone would come over an “borrow a tool” and pappy would extract a promise of when it would be returned.  If the tool wasn’t back in his shop on the appointed day, that was the end of it.  No more tools would be lent to that family.  In the end, he ended up not sharing much.  Not out of meanness on his part; irresponsibility on the part of others.

I’ve been penciling some ideas around for a National Association of Responsible Neighbors.  Not to make money, but just to make life a little easier.

The rules of membership would be simple and it would be cheap.  $5-bucks a year.

You’d have to know everyone (and have their phone numbers) on  each side of your home and talk to them six times per year.  Even if there’s nothing to say but “Howdy!

And you’ve have to have a simple (printable) “Neighbor Chit.”

This way, if a person failed to return a borrowed tool (or anything else) you could petition to have them designed a “bad neighbor.”

Seems harsh, but for the good of the tribe of responsible humans.

NARN is not something government can (or should) do.  But, in the spirit of Lan’s PROBE, it would be a useful thing to have.

Especially useful if a neighbor happened to see smoke coming from your place, and there was no one home.

Write when you get rich,

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

28 thoughts on “Coping: “Re-Neighboring””

  1. One thing neighbors can do is share WiFi. I have five or six visible WiFis on my computer — all are password protected of course. None of us has shared our access, but we very easily could. I’m NOT saying give neighbors access to All Your Stuff on your home network — just internet access for mutual aid for outages. Gives one an excuse to contact them — ring the doorbell.

    Proper safeguards, of course.

      • Could throw a “neighbor” router on you connection and make that one available; would keep your’s private. Just another thought…

    • It can be good, but it probably violates the TOS of the provider. The other problem is that you’re responsible for all activity under your IP address. I’ve already had a nasty conversation with Centurystink over that.

    • I’ve had an open Wi-Fi channel as long as I’ve had wireless Internet. So does my neighbor, two houses away. When I started storm-chasing, and before high-speed cellular Internet was available, I used people’s open Wi-Fi to latch onto my NWS/NOAA/SPC feeds when I was spotting at night (NB: Dangerous! Especially in “tornado alley,” and absolutely not recommended for newbs. I have had a LOT of training, and even then, occasionally, we get killed.) It was a lesson I carried over, when high speed Internet became available in my area…

      • Thought about it5. But too many meanies out there for a person of any “profile.”

        How would I explain no, that child porn uploaded from my IP was a war driver?

        Neighbors yeah. Data buddies? Small deposit and a signed agreement in file…

      • I’ve never angered anyone enough for them to u/l KP. Someone DID leech on and d/l a couple pornos (I found out by receiving DMCA warnings) several years ago. I filed an apology with my ISP to the copyright holders, killed access for a month, then reconfigged the router and opened it back up — at a much lower power level.

        With an old Orinoco card and a directional external antenna, it is possible to latch onto Wi-Fi from well over a mile away. If I were to have a computer equipped with an old Orinoco card and a directional external antenna (which isn’t likely since people stopped using them years ago when Wi-Fi became a built-in), it would not latch onto mine from more than about 120 yards away, and probably not from more than one direction, with about a 12° spread.

    • My grand kids use mine.. I have to admit I sometimes worry now that they are teenagers…

  2. I miss the days of the Breakfast Pig. The things we remember.
    I do the same with neighbors. But I have them put some skin in the game, such as pay for fuel or material or even lunch. The leeches tend to go elsewhere

  3. Sign with a large arrow pointing at neighbor’s house (seen on a meme yesterday):

    My Next Door Neighbor
    wants to BAN all GUNS!

    Their house is

    Out of RESPECT for their opinions
    I promise NOT to use MY GUNS

  4. I got to meet a neighbor last week. Someone that was around for years. We commiserated about recent burglaries, talked about a fence repair, and exchanged phone numbers. It was good.

    Another time I helped a neighbor by plowing out a deep snow for him. All good, except I didn’t wait for him to ask. He felt obligated and was very insistent on helping me with a project I didn’t want help on. He was annoyed, though I didn’t want that at all. I’m gunshy about helping anyone that doesn’t ask me first, though I’d be glad to do what I can for most people.

    I hope the Tex/Cat thing works out. It warms my heart.

    • A good reason in the old days we had the welcome wagon. I make it a point to know all my neighbors. Get an idea of their strengths and hobbies. If a real SHTF scenario hits one person can’t do it alone. Just like the pioneers they set forth on wagon trains. A community,church groups, each relying on each other

      • The founders of my church were persecuted beaten robbed raped and killed because of their faith. Set course across the U.S. searching for a spot. They worked together.. I’ve seen the path and perils.. Moving a wagon up a cliff and down.. Livestock everything was against them. By them banding together each using their talents to work through the trials to survive..

  5. Got a postcard in the mail a while back for organizing a neighborhood online social media platform. All privacy protected, must use real names and addresses, etc. etc.. Sounded like a good way to get to know neighbors better, and I have friends that have done this through them. I was discouraged by a line in the privacy policy and never did, though. “Because of the special role played by government agency accounts, we may provide agency accounts with limited identifying personal information (first name and last initial) for neighborhood Leads, so that the agency can communicate directly with them.” Just seemed odd. I also have heard of community groups organized FaceBook groups, but I’m not on FaceBook either. Oh well – the neighbor has been good about returning my tools and he plows me out from time to time.

    • I have Nexdoor. It is great! I find everything that is going on in my neighborhood and the ones around me. The things that matter like new meetings for new roads, schools, or Walmart coming near you. It is very grassroot in the way of communications since is mostly your community and not the whole city.

      • I signed up for nextdoor for a short time. It felt too much like a group of Gladys Kravitz types. We see how the media bands together to take down whoever the current pariah du jour is, I could see nextdoor be used in the same way the Salem Witch trials were used to seek revenge and covet other peoples success-property.

        Too many people these days take info and weaponize it. Use to be a time when neighbors looked out for each other, nowadays though the environment is who can catch someone in a gotcha moment and make themselves look like a virtue peddler or SJW at the expense of another person’s reputation and make money doing it. A reputation that may be better than the person whose trying to destroy them.

  6. May I suggest a neighborly rule: Never borrow something you can’t afford to buy or repair, and return the borrowed item in a better state than it was when borrowed (as feasible).

    • Never loan anything unless your willing to say goodbye to it. I never loan I say here then mentally assume its a gift.that way there’s never any hard feelings

      • I knew of a guy decades ago, who had a reputation for never honoring the terms he’d set. This same guy became roommates with a friend for a while. He was always late with his rent. One time this flake told me he never feels the need to repay money someone loans him because from his perspective, they didn’t need it if they loaned it to him ( even when he said he would pay them back). I knew then he was to be avoided. He also could be quite violent and had a bad temper. I saw him about 15 years ago. He was driving and saw me walking and stopped to say hello. He had to tell me who he was. He’d aged that badly. After 40 your soul shows.

      • Robert.. I actually knew a woman like that. Her mom was dying.. I had been saving for years to get some badly needed dental work done.. along comes this young woman.. from another country sad tale of how her mom was on deaths door. I bought the story and was about to give her my dental money so she could see her mom one last time. As I was working one of my colleagues cornered me. Let me know that this was a story. I didn’t give her anything and got my dental work done. After that when I’d see her I’d ask if she had some change she could loan me..
        Anyway that was way over thirty years ago last summer a person that was working with a friend started talking about this woman he worked with. Moms dying.. on deaths doorstep.. she needs money to get back to England to see her one last time. I laughed and asked her name,yup it was her.. moms still kicking.
        The looks of time.. phew in my mind I see this young man..still full of life energy inquisitive.. yet my health shows me that I have over worked this old carcass and racked with the pain of arthritis limited mobility and blindness. My biggest fear was I would loose all my sight and not be able to read.. I was astonished when so many people offered to just come and read. Professors asking if I had room for students looking for extra credits to just hang around this old fool..listen to me ramble and read. Lol (I read odd though. Read a chapter or two then research it. It would drive most people nuts.) then I look in the mirror.. what I see is this old man staring back. Realistically I am surprised that I am still here kicking and sharing my opinions. I think I have a good giving and loving soul, but by the looks of me that old carcass of mine doesn’t reflect that by looks.

  7. I miss Lan Roberts. Worked with him in Honolulu (Pat O’Day’s station) in late 1976.

    • I talked to him briefly when he was there. Said he was loving living in the coast of Komonawnnalaya.
      (come on, I wanna lay yah…_rim shot)

  8. “it wasn’t a money thing. It was a human thing.”

    Felt good I am betting to.
    I get a huge feeling of joy when I do something like that. You can see it in their expressions.

  9. “Seattle Seahawk”

    I am a fan.. And a lot can be learned from the Seahawks..just watch a game.. They play hard..hit hard.. Play fare.. But..if you ever notice. The knock someone down in a play. The hand goes out an offer to help them up. Sportsmanship. That’s what made me a fan. Fairness and sportsmanship. Traits not seen very often anymore.
    I am glad I am where I am. I just about know everyone in a six block area. Had an incident where someone got sick.. There must have been fifty people here to help in less than ten minutes to. Its not unusual to have someone just say hi.

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