NeighborCircles

“Good Food, Good Conversation and Good Connection”

NeighborCircles is the principle organizing strategy of Lawrence CommunityWorks

If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that most of us don’t know our neighbors and they don’t know us. We are too busy, too shy, or too intimidated to make connections and build relationships with people on our street or on our block. The fact is, in this day and age, getting to know neighbors can be hard and a bit scary.

In our view, the costs of this neighbor to neighbor disconnection are enormous. Behind poor communication lurk distrust, bigotry, and countless lost opportunities to improve our lives and our communities. Some believe that the days of neighbors knowing each other and looking after each other’s children are over. At LCW, we think that we all just need more practice and a safer environment to get it started. NeighborCircles is one way of starting up the long-interrupted, neighbor-to-neighbor conversation once again.

How does it work?

Under the leadership of a resident “host” and trained facilitator, 8-10 families come together 3 times over the course of a month for dinner and conversation. They get to know each other, talk about the neighborhood or the city, and decide as group if there is something that they can do together to help build community in Lawrence.

What next?

A NeighborCircle can continue to meet regularly after the third meeting to address neighborhood issues or organize activities to bring neighbors together and build community.

NeighborCircles have led to projects and collective action on specific issues. Some Circles have worked together on ally and playground cleanups, improving street lighting, safety and parking, and organizing block parties.

NeighborCircles are a highly adaptable approach:

Recognizing that every community is different and that different situations require different approaches we are continually adapting NeighborCircles while maintaining the core belief that bringing people together to have good conversations in a safe, comfortable environment can yield significant community change.

LCW NeighborCircle Lead Facilitators training NeighborWorks’ Community Building and Organizing member organizations.

As well as responding to the demands of our own community we have had the opportunity to share NeighborCircles with organizations and communities throughout the country.  Today groups throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Mississippi, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, and many more have received trainings from our staff and facilitators and are adding their own flair to NeighborCircles in their own communities.

How can I start a NeighborCircles?

For more information and an orientation on how to start a NeighborCircle please contact:

Lorena Salazar
Membership Opportunities Coordinator
Our House Campus
168 Newbury St.
Lawrence, MA 01841
Direct Line: 978-722-2615 or email at
lsalazar@lawrencecommunityworks.org

Spencer Buchholz
Director of Network Organizing
Our House Campus
168 Newbury St.
Lawrence, MA 01841
Direct Line: 978-722-2610 or email at
sbuchholz@lawrencecommunityworks.org