Seattle celebrated its 17th annual Neighbor Appreciation Day last Saturday with 50 celebrations of varying scale all across this city of ours. It’s the day when we reach out, create new connections, and share our appreciation with those who live or work around us.
The tradition started in 1995 when then-Mayor Norm Rice proclaimed the Saturday before Valentine’s Day as a day to “celebrate the goodness in those around us and to reach out and strengthen our bonds to each other.”
On Saturday, Seattle fire stations opened their doors for tours, local pools provided free open swims, and a number of community groups hosted social gatherings. I joined my colleagues Sally Clark and Tim Burgess at the Bitter Lake Community Center for their observance of the day, and the event was well-attended.
I spoke with many friends and acquaintances from the area including Richard Dyksterhuis, who’s worked so hard to get sidewalk connections throughout the neighborhood. Richard was referenced in a Pacific Northwest magazine article in Sunday’s Seattle Times, which can read here.
Pat McCoy from the Broadview Community Council coordinated the event as an information and resource fair for community members from not only Broadview, but also the Bitter Lake and Haller Lake neighborhoods.
Neighbor Appreciation Day doesn’t have to be relegated to just one day, though, and there doesn’t have to be a formal event or observance to show your fellow community members just how important they are. Make it a practice to participate, even if it’s just a “hello” as you pass on the sidewalk. We build community through a series of small actions, and when gathered together as we did on Saturday, those connections can be even more powerful.