October 18, 2011
I read an article by Peter Lovenheim, ” in the Los Angeles Times several months ago. He discussed how we are disconnected from our neighbors — we often do not even know who lives next door.
It is so true that people almost never have to leave their homes because they can communicate with others via telephone and Internet, and if they really don’t want to step out, they can even order groceries online.
I live in a townhome complex which contains 162 units. It often surprises me when I meet somebody for the first time after that person has lived in the same complex for as long as I’ve lived here, which is more than 10 years. At the same time, I know quite a few others who live in the complex and the surrounding neighborhood — only because I share my home with my dogs.
When you have a dog, you have to step out because you have to walk them. Especially if you don’t have a yard, your dogs need to go outside, rain or shine. As we accompany our dogs on walks, we meet other people who are also with their dogs, or people who are gardening in their front yard, and exchange neighborly conversations.
I still have not met the majority of people who live in my own complex because they don’t have a dog and they can get in and out of their homes by car through their garages, so we never have a chance to meet. Especially if their garages don’t share the driveway with mine, I’ll probably never meet them, ever.
We live in this isolated society, yet people crave for the sense of community. Hence websites like “Meetup” have become remarkably successful venues to connect people. You can seek others who share the same interests and create groups to physically get together in your communities.
Until I read Lovenheim’s article, I almost forgot that we live in an era that needs venues like Meetup to facilitate human contacts.
Here’s my tip of the day: Adopt a dog from your local shelter or a private rescue group such as Forte, go to a park or a local café with your dog, who would serve as an icebreaker, and meet people naturally and casually!
In the process, you’d be saving a life as well.
If you wish assistance, please contact info@FARescue.org, and we can help you to select the perfect new (canine) member of your family, who will also be a great connection to your community.
Marie Atake is Founder & President of Forte Animal Rescue and a former Commissioner on the Board of L.A. Animal Services.