The 4 Reasons Why I Highly Recommend Starting or Joining a Neighborhood Book Club

When it comes to thawing the Seattle Freeze, I can say without a doubt that nothing has created more meaningful connection for me in my neighborhood that my book club.

My book club meets monthly at a member's home in my neighborhood. It is a GREAT way to build friendship and thaw the Seattle Freeze!

My book club meets monthly at a member’s home in my neighborhood. It is a GREAT way to build friendship and thaw the Seattle Freeze!

I think the four big reasons why this is true are that a neighborhood book club offers: Proximity, Affinity, Frequency and Purpose.  I’ll unpack those in reverse order.

First: PURPOSE.  Continue reading

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A brief reminder of what it means to be neighborly

Neighborly

This week I was shown a wonderful reminder of what it means to be neighborly. I’ve mentioned before that two houses on my street recently sold and received new neighbors this summer. The most recent family moved in this past weekend and I was able to grab a ‘first hello’ while the husband was out mowing the lawn in this spectacular fall weather we’ve been enjoying.

[click here to read Becky's: Top 3 reasons why fall is a GREAT time to host a block party]

But, do you want to know what he and his family did this weekend? Continue reading

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Best 5 Ingredient Autumn Dinner: Grandpa Logan’s Stew

Grandpa Logan's Beef Stew. You won't find a better meal for a chilly autumn evening.

Grandpa Logan’s Beef Stew. You won’t find a better meal for a chilly autumn evening.

October is probably my favorite month of the year. I love the red and gold in the leaves, the crisp evening air, putting pumpkins on the front porch and I love Halloween.  I also love a simple, hot bowl of soup for dinner. October is also special to me because yesterday, Oct. 2, would have been my Grandma Logan’s birthday; today, Oct. 3, my Grandpa Logan’s birthday.  Yep, just one day apart.  To note, this must be some kind of family legacy as my husband Jaz and I have birthdays that are one day apart. Go figure.

While I lost my grandparents many years ago, my memories of them are warm and strong. They were good Southern folk, both born and raised in the hills of Arkansas and both grew up quite poor. They relocated to the Northwest during the great ‘timber migration’ of the 40’s.

Those Southern Roots

I was, indeed, raised with a certain sense of southern hospitality that my grandparents embodied. Florence and John Logan never met a stranger and their tiny two-bedroom bungalow was always filled with family, friends and neighbors. Continue reading

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Won’t you be my neighbor? Oh, wait. You already are!

Today’s post is from long-time Seattle area marketing communications maven Karen Cramer.  Karen and I got connected through the University of Washington’s continuing education program.  Karen recently had the most delightful experience indicative of what it means to ‘live warmly’ in one’s community.  I know you will enjoy this incredible story:

More than 15 years ago, my husband and I moved our young family to an old farming community northeast of Seattle in the sweet, beautiful Snoqualmie Valley. We’ve raised our children here, worked in the schools, and shoveled mud in huge ditches alongside other community members because someone’s farm house was in danger. We are grateful to have enjoyed countless pancake breakfasts at the firehouse, hamburgers in the cul-de-sac with neighbors, and the opportunity to bring Haunted-and-Hopped-Up-On-Sugar Halloween and Winter Fairyland to life each holiday season with treats, decorations, and lighting displays that rival the over-the-top traditions in Christmas with the Kranks.

The Snoqualmie Valley Trail at early fall.

The Snoqualmie Valley Trail at early fall.

We’ve contributed to and benefited from small town, highly engaged community life. The kind of life and engagement I envied and fantasized about as a child while we drove through little towns on the way to our next new home stop during my dad’s military career. We have considered moving countless times for convenience sake but worry about the deep loss we’d feel in leaving this community and the rich ties we’ve built over the years. That’s right, folks. We have it good.

The Seattle Freeze?

If you’d have asked me about the Seattle Freeze six months ago, I might not have taken the inquiry very seriously. Or at least not thought it applied in my world. And I might have given myself far too much credit. On a beautiful summer day this year – the Fourth of July to be exact – we were given a gift: an opportunity to experience what it means to open up to strangers, welcome them in, and truly invite them to be part of our lives.

Here’s what happened… Continue reading

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The CRAZY, AMAZING COINCIDENCE that happened at my first coffee klatch! Get your Kleenex ready…

Organizing a coffee klatch is an excellent way to meet your neighbors in a casual setting. A great step toward thawing the Seattle Freeze.

Organizing a coffee klatch is an excellent way to meet your neighbors in a casual setting. A great step toward thawing the Seattle Freeze.

On my continuing mission to challenge myself to be intentional about exploring the many ways Seattleites might open up their friendship circles, I decided to try my hand at organizing a neighborhood coffee klatch. I think there was one in my neighborhood years ago, but it faded out about the time we moved in.  I have such amazing timing, I know.

The Invitee List & Quick Details

To build my invitee list I combed through neighborhood and school directories for published email addresses of women in my neighborhood. Yes, this one was targeted at women, sorry guys.  I also scoured my own Outlook account to look for gals I might have served on a neighborhood or school committee with but didn’t really know them very well. And, of course, I invited neighbors that I already knew – aka ‘the peeps’. As I did this one mid-week, I targeted stay-at-home and work-from-home women.

For this venture I used Evite to keep things über simple and organized. I emailed the invite to a list of 22 neighborhood gals, with about a week’s notice prior to the klatch.

Six gals were able to attend. Several more were thankful for the invite, and although they had other commitments they made a point to say “please let me know when you have the next one.”

And, do you want to know the CRAZY, AMAZING COINCIDENCE that happened at my inaugural neighborhood coffee klatch? Continue reading

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One Inspiring “Night Out”

This pig may have seen better days, but he hosted a great time for one North Seattle neighborhood!

This pig may have seen better days, but he hosted a great time for one North Seattle neighborhood!

Last week I shared my celebration with you about taking the risk to organize a block party with just one week’s notice, the result of which was getting the opportunity to meet five neighbors I didn’t yet know. Along with several neighbors I do know, we all enjoyed a casual evening of new connections. It really was awesome.

I was inspired to try this after hearing about three National Night Out block parties via friends and blog followers who were willing to share their stories with me. A couple of weeks ago, I connected with Kristine, a Bellingham transplant who now resides in North Seattle. She has been organizing a NNO block party in her neighborhood for the past seven years.  What started out as a simple potluck, grew this year to include a parade and a roasted pig. How did this all come together? Continue reading

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The 6 HAPPY GIFTS I received at my block party

The fire pit was blazing as I waited for my first neighbor to arrive at my block party.

The fire pit was blazing and I waited for my first neighbor to arrive at my block party.

Last April, I set a goal for myself to have one neighbor over for dinner, once a month for 12 months. And, not just any neighbors, but neighbors that I didn’t already know or know very well.

Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the biggest challenge in all that: how do I go about inviting people over for dinner that I don’t even know? I mean, how would it come across if I simply knocked on someone’s door and said, “Hi. I’m your neighbor. I don’t know you. Wanna come for dinner?” In a city where making eye contact can often be iffy, doesn’t the thought of doing that bring you to the point of nervous poopies?  Might as well just put my ‘needy dork hat’ on and march down the middle of the street, right?

Well, anyway, that’s a big reason why I wanted to try to pull together a block party. It would provide a casual, ‘non-threatening’ opportunity to make some first introductions and have more than just a passing ‘mailbox’ conversation with neighbors I didn’t know very well. So, I pulled on my big girl panties and decided to take a risk. I canvassed my street with invites to my backyard for coffee and S’mores.

One week’s notice.  And what happened? Continue reading

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Top 3 reasons why fall is a GREAT time to host a block party

Autumn in Seattle is a great time to host a block party.

Did you know that this summer marked the 30th anniversary of National Night Out (NNO)?  August 5, to be exact.  Did you know that in 2013 more than 1,400 neighborhoods in and around greater Seattle held some kind of block party for National Night Out?  I had no idea until a few friends and connections recently shared about their NNO neighborhood block parties this summer.

The National Association of Town Watch (NATW) introduced NNO to launch an effort to promote crime prevention, police-community partnerships, and neighborhood camaraderie.  The city of Seattle and its surrounding suburbs are heavily invested in encouraging these gatherings to bring neighbors together, welcome new neighbors, talk about crime prevention efforts and just have a great time together. That’s pretty cool for a city thought of as occasionally frosty.

A friend of mine has been hosting NNO in her neighborhood for the past 6 years. She did it the first time simply because she thought it would be a great way to get to know her neighbors. She, like many of us, worked for many years before having children then, suddenly, she’s home with a child and looks around and doesn’t know anyone.  It was time to change that.

So, she got on her town’s website, registered her event, and canvassed her neighborhood with a simply flyer.

I Was Inspired for 3 Big Reasons

Well, I have to say that I was inspired by her story – and a couple of others I’ll share in the coming weeks – enough to try doing a block party of my own. No, it’s not National Night Out and No, it’s not summer.  But I think fall is a GREAT time to host a block party in Seattle. Why? Continue reading

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I BELIEVE The 12th MAN can MELT the Seattle Freeze!

“How cool would it be if, 30 years from now, we’re sitting with our kids and grandkids and telling them about how we did something extraordinary?”

Seattle Seahawks Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner

12thartistic

This summer when my interview with Rachel Belle from The Ron and Don Show aired on KIRO Radio, both hosts commented that they didn’t think the Seattle Freeze existed anymore.  They felt that ever since the 12th Man phenomenon swept through our great city, the Freeze was history.  Rachel disagreed, the story aired and it became further thought for discussion.

Two weeks ago I received an email from someone in response to the Issaquah Reporter article about my blog which said: “Thank you so much for talking about the ‘Seattle Freeze.’ I moved here from the (East Coast) many years ago and have had one heck of a time making friends here…I’ve never quite been able to figure out the people here – polite, but just not all that friendly.”

Sorry, Ron. Sorry, Don.  I’m grieved to say that The Seattle Freeze did not disappear with the firestorm of the 12th Man and pockets of Puget Sound remain mighty chilly.

But I do believe that the collective energy and enthusiasm of the Seattle Seahawks 12th Man can act as a catalyst to ignite our city and spread a chain reaction of connection and community.  Here’s how: Continue reading

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My ode to the Pioneer Woman and the Barefoot Contessa

My friend Lisa whipped up the Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Poundcake for our interview with KIRO Radio's Rachel Belle.  Can you say yum?

My friend Lisa whipped up the Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Poundcake for our interview with KIRO Radio’s Rachel Belle. Can you say yum? And Lisa’s version comes complete with a beautiful crochet decoration! :)

Earlier this week I told you all about my neighbor and friend Lisa and her new adventure to start expanding her relationship circle by hosting crocheting workshops in her home. (See full story below) Once again, if you have an interest in attending one of Lisa’s workshops, you can get on her email list at lisaminton@live.com.

While I’m not a crocheter (not even sure that’s a dictionary word), Lisa and I do share several common interests.  Continue reading

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