We are Neighbors and Friends
The article is published at River Hill Villager, 2017-06 issue.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “neighbors nearby are better than relatives faraway”. That is so true in today’s world since more family members are scattered around the globe. Instead, many families have been neighbors for more years than they have live with or near parents and other relatives. At a difficult time, or for convenience, a friendly neighbor can often offer greater help than a relative not in the area.
I am writing this article following two of my experiences in the neighborhood. The first experience is an example of a not so friendly situation. A family sought my help because their neighbor always parked their car along the curb in front of their home. River Hill’s Covenants do not address areas within the public rights-of-way and the location and manner in which the vehicle parks is not illegal and therefore there is no action the police can take However, the parking of the car did cause difficulty for the family when backing out from their garage and there appears to be enough space in their neighbor’s driveway to park which adds to their frustration. Though the family talked with their neighbor, they were unable to resolve the issue and asked for my assistance. I tried to mediate and have not succeeded yet. In another example, some neighbors are very friendly and considerate. I know of two neighbors who both have dogs. They set up regular play-dates for their pets. When one neighbor has a vacation, the other neighbor takes care of their dogs and cats, and vice versa. This level of cooperation is a tremendous help to each resident and to their pets.
We are now living in a more compact world and in Howard County, Columbia, and at in the villages we are dedicated to creating a more walkable environment which will lead to more interactions with each other. The most important element of a good neighborhood is our neighbors and our connections to one another.
This concept can also be extended to land development. Adding a wall to reduce sound disturbance or a fence to avoid light pollution are soft and friendly measures developers can take to give consideration to residential neighbors. Improving traffic conditions around commercial development as early as in the design phase as possible will increase acceptance from the neighborhood as well. Surely, some residents do not want any changes in their neighborhoods and the surrounding area; but, most our residents are reasonable and ask no more than necessary to protect their peaceful existence. Their concerns should be respected and honored.
We are neighbors and have the potential to be friends. If we cannot be friends, at least, we can be considerate of our neighbors. A greeting, a smile, or offering to help with kids or pets are ways we can assist each other. Let us embrace our neighbors.
Chao Wu, Ph.D.
River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors
Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.