"Hello, Neighbor": Simple Words, Big Change

"Hello, Neighbor": Simple Words, Big Change

Maxwell Ryan
Aug 28, 2008

When I started Apartment Therapy in 2001, it was partially because I was inspired by living in lower Manhattan during and after 9/11, and watching something I had never seen in my entire life as a New Yorker: strangers peacefully helping one another and working together. It set off the realization, that as much as we all seek or want help in our daily lives the answers and solutions are all around us. The biggest problem is connecting with our neighbors...

Sara heard this program on NPR last week and called me immediately. It was just the sort of thing, she said, that I would like.

Called, "Hello, Neighbor," it chronicles a project by photojournalist Julie Keefe in Portland, Oregon, "after she observed how gentrification was leaving many of her own neighborhood's kids "

As their young friends moved away, strangers were moving in. They were often young, often wary, and usually white.

And, as Keefe noticed, neighbors were no longer saying "hello" to each other.

"So I thought, if the kids could somehow approach their new neighbors," Keefe said, "and let the neighbors know they were actually interested in them, the kids and the neighbors could meet one another. It's all about building community."

How easy is Hello? How rare is it where you live?

Using her skills as a photographer and teaching local children to take their own portraits and invite neighbors into their schools for simple interviews, Keefe launched a program in six Portland neighborhoods and six central Oregon towns over one year. The results were inspiring and cut to the very core of how community is formed, maintained and, often, lost.

I urge you to read or listen to the show and/or bookmark it and save it for later. It's as simple as "hello" and worth it.

>> NPR A Photo Project's Message: Hello, Neighbor with radio link - 6min 42sec
>> Julie Keefe's Website

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