Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in the New Year

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be-kind-everyone-you-meet-fighting-hard-battle-whoisplatoThe old year is put to bed, and the New Year is still waking up and getting started. As you rise up with it, consider some ways to make this year a little happier for you and those around you. You can make a difference in the lives of the people you come into contact with with only a small amount of effort. Here are five ways you can be a good neighbor this year. Can you suggest more?

1) Seek First to Understand: By now we’ve all seen the Internet memes out there with Plato’s quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard (or harder) battle.” Next time you encounter someone who seems like he or she is about to bite your head off, consider the person might be having a really bad day, or is going through a painful time. If it’s someone in a store or on the road, let them pass and silently wish them well. If it’s a friend, co-worker or family member, save the tart response and ask a few questions. Hey, are you having a bad day? What’s up?

2) Schedule in Chance Conversations: Years ago my neighbors told me it always looked like I was in a hurry to get somewhere. I [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in May

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Silicon Valley GivesApril showers bring…weeds! I was greeted by a whole new crop of weeds at my community garden plot this week. My May will include heavy doses of weed pulling, digging, and finally planting vegetable and flower seedlings for a summer/fall harvest. In between weeding and digging sessions, I’ll also be taking part in some community-building activities.

What about you? What will you be doing to make your world a better place this month? I’ve got five suggestions for you right here.

1. Make Silicon Valley Giving History: Tuesday, May 6, marks the first Silicon Valley Gives, a single-day online fundraising event for several hundred nonprofits in San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Benito counties. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation is organizing the drive, in honor of the 100th anniversary of community foundations. The day is in part modeled after the wildly successful #GivingTuesday, which launched nationally the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2012 and grew exponentially in 2013. By concentrating efforts on raising money on a single day to a single fundraising platform, smaller nonprofits benefit from the wave of publicity generated by the event. Find your favorite valley charity on Razoo.com and give a donation on May 6. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in January

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Concert to Fight Poverty2014 is off and running! Whether you made New Year’s resolutions, intentions, goals, to dos, dreams, set a theme, or came up with guide words for the year, I hope that you included helping others in your vision.

After reading Beth Kanter’s blog post about setting a theme and choosing three words for the year (she borrowed these concepts from Peter Bregman and Chris Brogan), I chose “peace” as a theme (for myself and those around me), and for good measure repeated “peace” as one of my three words for the year, adding to it “relationships,” and “community.”

Here are five ways we can make a difference for our communities in the San Francisco Bay Area during this first month of 2014. Will you try one of these? If you do, let me know what happens. Happy New Year!

1. Fight Poverty Through Choral Music: Two South Bay churches, Trinity Cathedral and Stone Church of Willow Glen, are combining efforts to put on a Concert to Fight Poverty, 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 12, at Trinity Cathedral, 81 N. 2nd St., San Jose. The choral concert features Saratoga composer Henry Mollicone’s “Beatitude Mass,” sometimes called the “Mass for the Homeless.” Tickets are $20; all proceeds go to Downtown Streets Team, and Trinity Cathedral’s social good programs. Call 408-315-4354 for reservations, or purchase at the door. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in December

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gift-of-reading-san-jose-mercury-resource-area-for-teachers-RAFT-five-ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-in-DecemberThis year December and the season of sharing kicks off big time with #GivingTuesday on Dec. 3. While a lot of emphasis is on making online donations to deserving charities that day, giving includes sharing yourself through volunteering, making responsible shopping choices, donating to collection drives, and other similar ways. Here are five ways you can make an impact on your world this month.

1. Give the Gift of Reading: The annual Gift of Reading book drive is struggling this year and could really use help in collecting new and like-new books for kids in need. As of the day before Thanksgiving, the drive had only collected 3,200 books, far short of the 50,000 goal, according to San Jose Mercury columnist Sal Pizarro. The drive is co-sponsored by the Mercury and the Resource Area For Teachers (RAFT). Consider dropping off a children’s book at one of many South Bay locations, or donate money online so the folks at RAFT can purchase books for kids, some of whom have never owned their own book before. The drive ends Friday, Dec. 13. Or give books, toys, gift cards, and other goods in one of the many donation drives taking place throughout the holidays.

2. Help a Neighbor with Decorations: This idea comes from our original list of “30 Ways to be a Good Neighbor at the Holidays.” Maybe an older or disabled neighbor would like a few strings of [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in October

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Bay-Area-Pet-Fair-Adoptathon-pet-adoptions-be-a-good-neighborThe Federal Government may be temporarily shut down, but the business of being a good neighbor is always open, which is why I present to you the monthly “Five Ways” column. This month is probably the best month to act on one of these suggestions, because chances are you alone can’t change what’s happening at the national level at the moment, but you can absolutely make a difference in at least one life in your own neighborhood.

Got more ideas for how to be a good neighbor? Tell us in comments!

1. Adopt a Rescued Pet: There are many opportunities to adopt a rescued pet this month, starting October 5-6 at the Bay Area Pet Fair and Adoptathon. In addition to hundreds of dogs, cats, and small animals available for adoption, the fair features stunt dog shows, splash dogs, police K9 units, 200 pet supply vendors, activities for kids, and much more. Admission and parking is free at the event, which takes place 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days at the Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more dog rescue events this month, check out the Doggie Protective Services website.  Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue is hosting an adoption event from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Brentwood Shadow Lakes Golf Course Event Center, 401 West Country Club Dr., in Brentwood. You can find out more about this event, and other Mickaboo October events at the group’s website.  [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in July

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be-a-good-neighbor-in-july-happy-fourth-of-july-good-neighbor-storiesCelebrate America’s birthday by being a good citizen during July! Here are five ways you can exercise your citizenship in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1. ‘Party On’ This Fourth: Spend some time getting to know others in your community by joining in on local celebrations. Every city has events to bring its residents together on the Fourth of July, sometimes all day, with pancake breakfasts, parades, festivals, and of course, fireworks once the sun sets. Check out the list on Kidmatter.com for events all over the Bay Area. Want to stay home? Consider inviting your neighbors over for a barbecue. Start planning a block party together for later in the summer—you can use our guide to how to plan a great block party!

2. Get to Know Japanese Buddhist Neighbors: July and August are Obon season for Japanese Buddhists, a time to honor ancestors with feasts, dancing, and memorial services. Two South Bay Buddhist temples and one in Berkeley are hosting festivals for the entire [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in June

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Child-Advocates-Silicon-ValleyIt’s warm in the Bay Area this weekend, a preview of the summer ahead. After school is out, and graduations are over, think about helping out  to make our communities just a little nicer and friendlier during this season. Here are five suggestions for the month of June.

1. Speak Up for Children: The nonprofit group  Child Advocates of Silicon Valley is looking for volunteers who are willing to stand up and aid children in the foster care system. More than 100 children are currently on the waiting list for advocate services. Orientations for interested or new volunteers are taking place throughout the month at locations in Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Saratoga, Milpitas, and San Jose. See the group’s orientation page for more information.

2. Enjoy Some Music, Dance, and Food in SF: Kick off your summer with some great music and maybe some dancing in The City. Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9, tap your feet to the beat of the Golden Gate Band Festival, at the Spreckels Temple of Music in Golden [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in April

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Earth-Day-ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-April-2013As the weather warms up, so does the calendar: there are an increasing number of activities going on in the Bay Area in April. Lots of opportunities for cleaning up the environment, charity walking, service projects, community events, and more, are available.

Every month I list five ideas of how you can get involved in the community and make a difference to those around you and the rest of the world. Consider incorporating at least one of these suggestions into your calendar.

Speaking of calendars, check out my new Kindness Calendar, which lists special service and awareness days/weeks/months that happen annually. There are eight listed for April alone! And for even more community events, keep an eye on the GNS Community Calendar (or list your own events there!).

1. Love Your Mother (Earth): April 22 is Earth Day, but the entire month of April is in essence, Earth Month, with all the events happening around the Bay Area designed to beautify, build awareness of, and celebrate, the care and protection of our planet (it is, in fact, Keep America Beautiful Month, and Arbor Day is April 27). The first weekend in April kicks off Earth activities. Saturday, April 6, the City of Cupertino is [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in March

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San-Francisco-St.-Patrick's-Day-Parade-SMcGarnigle-five-ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-in-march-2013-good-neighbor-stories

By SMcGarnigle on Flickr

Amidst the “special” days of March, there’s “Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day” (March 1), “Popcorn Lovers’ Day” (same day as “National Pi Day”, March 14), and, I kid you not, “Extraterrestrial Abductions Day” (March 20). I could go on, March has a lot of wacky days (“Everything You Think is Wrong Day” on March 15, anyone?).

Here at Good Neighbor Stories, I like to share five ways you can contribute to the local community each month. Here are the suggestions for March.

1) Catch Some Luck of the Irish: March is National Irish-American Heritage Month, designated by Congress starting in 1995. With more than 1 million people of Irish descent in the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s a lot of celebrating going on, and not just on St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, the 17th. Starting on Saturday, March 9, and going all the way to April 26, it’s the 10th anniversary of the Crossroads Irish-American Festival in San Francisco. The festival, “promotes the discovery and understanding of the Irish experience in the Americas to ensure that the richness of the arts, culture, history and traditions of this heritage are both held in great esteem and preserved for [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in February

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kindness-random-acts-of-kindness-foundation-good-neighbor-stories-five-ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor

Courtesy of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

Ready to show some loving kindness this month? February is the month for both love and kindness. We show our love for those near and dear to us on Valentine’s Day. That same week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, when we’re encouraged to engage in acts of kindness to others in the community.

Here are five ways you can show some kindness to others in the San Francisco Bay Area, or get to know your neighbors a little better by expanding your cultural awareness. Have any more suggestions to add? Share them in the comments section!

1) Celebrate Lunar New Year: The Lunar New Year is Sunday, Feb. 10, ushering in the Year of the Snake. Cultural events are taking place all over the San Francisco Bay Area from Feb. 2 to Feb. 24, with the popular Chinese New Year Parade rolling through downtown San Francisco on Saturday, Feb. 23. A complete calendar for the Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is available online. The Stanford-Pan Asian Music Festival is welcoming the new year Feb. 8-10, at the university’s new Bing Concert Hall. Look for other events, including many family-friendly happenings, at local libraries, community centers, and cultural centers. Los Altos Patch has a great list.

2) Check Out a Festival That’s for the Birds: The 17th annual San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival is happening Feb. 8-10 at Mare Island, a former Naval base on a peninsula located near Vallejo. More than 60 walks and guided tours are available to see all the birds and wildlife found there; an art exhibit, silent auction, and other events are also scheduled. This is a unique opportunity to see this important nature preserve up close. See the festival website for more information. [Read more…]