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When neighbors say more than “hello”: A State of Opportunity special

Dec 22, 2016

What’s the most important thing to consider when you’re choosing a neighborhood?

Your real estate agent would probably tell you: location, location, location. But what makes one neighborhood different from another a few blocks over?

One key factor is the relationships among people living there. In other words: neighbors, neighbors, neighbors.

How well do you know your neighbors?

We asked Kevin Brown, Adi, Singh, Andrea Tonial, James Herdman, Mike Ference, Oluwadamilare Adeyeri, Dave Hardin and Amy Heitman that very question:

How does your relationship with neighbors shape your life?

In this State of Opportunity special, we hear from three different communities of people who have worked together to change their neighborhoods for the better.

From health to happiness, how neighbors impact our lives 

"I think that now, and not just now but maybe for the last decade or so people are starting to appreciate the value of knowing your neighbors."

The past two decades have seen a wealth of social science research that suggests the people you live next to can shape your life in all kinds of ways.

Jeffrey Morenoff, director of the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan, joined Stateside to discuss how neighborhoods affect us and how relationships with our neighbors can shape our lives.

“Social cohesion means different things to different people,” he said. “But in the way that I’ve studied it, and many other social scientists have studied it, it’s the degree to which people trust and interact with one another and share – or at least think they share – common values with the people who live around them.”

Leelanau seniors band together to maintain independence

Since 1994, ShareCare has been helping seniors stay in their homes. It’s truly a win-win proposition: seniors in Leelanau get the support and help they need to live independently, at home. And volunteers get the reward of knowing they’re helping their neighbors.

"As we aged, we began to think what services were available in this rural community... That was what got us to, well, think about our future."

Barb Coye is one of ShareCare’s founders, and Deb Wetherbee is office manager for ShareCare. Stateside spoke with both women about ShareCare – how it began and how it continues to help seniors maintain their independence today.

And, Interlochen Public Radio’s Morgan Springer went along on a volunteer outing to learn first-hand what it’s like to be a part of ShareCare.

Hamtramck pothole project cements neighborhood relationship

"I think they saw that if you have a loud enough voice with enough people that whoever you're trying to yell at is going to hear you."

When a neighborhood problem surfaces, sometimes it takes a few people putting their heads together over drinks to come up with a solution.

That’s what happened about a year and a half ago when a group of Hamtramck neighbors decided they were fed up with the horrible road conditions in their town.

Jeff Salazar and Maritza Garibay were two of the founding members of the Hamtramck Guerrilla Road Crew. With others, they got together, bought some cold patch, and started filling potholes.

It takes a village in this Lansing neighborhood

On the corner of South Washington and Garden Street in Lansing, you’ll find a brown sign with the words “Welcome to Fabulous Acres Neighborhood” painted in bright yellow letters.

"If you take a tomato from our garden, we want you to pull a weed."

Its residents have worked hard to build a safe and vibrant neighborhood.

Within a few blocks, you’ll find three urban gardens, a park with a playground and picnic tables and Village Summit, a foreclosed home turned into a “micro-community center.”

State of Opportunity’s April Van Buren took a trip to Lansing to see what Fabulous Acres is all about.

And, Dottie Canty-Armstrong and Marcus Brown, two long-time residents of Fabulous Acres, joined Stateside to explain what makes their neighborhood so unique.

*To hear individual interviews, click on the headers above.

*This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 2, 2016.