A few months ago my kids realized another kid lived on the other side our back fence. They started a conversation through the knot holes. Then moved their little plastic playhouse closer to the fence so they could climb on it and meet the other kid.
They're full fledged friends now, but unfortunately A. fell off his little playhouse and broke his arm. Realizing this friendship and communication wasn't going to stop, and because its great to have friends, us parents got together to discuss a better way of doing things.
We built a door. Its a hidden door. Can you see it? This happened today, to my kid's delight. Uninterrupted playtime with their new best friend. David and I got to meet and talk at length to the neighbors as we worked on this new door together. They are the coolest, nicest people and I can't believe they've lived behind us for over 3 years and we did not even know their name!
I don't know about you but I'm not a super extroverted person. In fact, I'm not extroverted at all. Luckily I have 3 adorable extroverted kids that love to push me out of my comfort zone. Luckily also that they happen to have excellent taste in people. I've met some of my greatest, dearest friends through my kids. So, this new friendship has just begun. I'm a bit ashamed to admit I don't fully know most of my neighbors. I know the 2 immediate ones on either side of me. The guy at the corner and his wife are really sweet and gives me bags of cherries every summer. I wave to the people across the street and know one other house that has kids the same as my kids age but that's it.
I've been reading several books lately on community. One made the point that, although community was valued in the past, there was a time (and my house was definitely built in that time) where community wasn't valued and privacy was in its places. Gone were the vast, wrap around porches of community gathering, but have you noticed? Its coming back. Neighborhoods are now being built with community in mind.
Of course, it doesn't take a large front porch to get to know your neighbors. It can take a few kids and a new door in a fence. Or just the initiative to invite them over.