Neighborhoods and our neighbors matter
Research shows that where we live impacts:
Our zip code is more important than our genetic code as a predictor of life expectancy.
Physical and mental health
Healthy relationships and safe neighborhoods play a major role in health outcomes including chronic health conditions.*
Neighborhoods directly impact the opportunity children have to advance socioeconomically from their parents’ position.
Knowing our neighbors' names, mutual trust and altruism are directly linked to increased safety.
* See also Social Determinants of Health - these are factors, apart from medical (health) care, that strongly influence health and can be shaped by social policies.
Built on relationships
Neighborhoods aren’t just the physical structures and environment, but also the quality of relationships with those who live closest to us. Neighboring is necessary for communities to flourish and people to thrive. Specifically, evidence shows that Neighboring is most effective when it is built on dignity, mutuality and proximity.
Each person is made in the image of God and we treat them as such.
Each person has strengths that we can learn from and are vital to our community.
Each person has a story worth knowing, so we don’t settle for surface level relationships.
The following evidence-based methods are utilized in our work:
Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD)
First created by John McKnight and John Kretzmann in Building Communities from the Inside Out, this review of 2,000 community development interventions across the United States found that a focus on assets, leadership within the community, and being relationship driven are key factors for long-term sustainable change.
Social Capital Theory
This theory proposes that social networks have value. Who you know and the types of relationships you have is important. Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam was instrumental in this field and the research found that there is strong evidence that informal connections improve education, child welfare, safety, neighborhood productivity, economic wellbeing, health and democracy.
This idea reveals that meaningful contact between individuals of different groups increases empathy and decreases intergroup prejudice. In Dr. Gordon Allport’s nominal paper on this subject, he identifies the four necessary components, to include equal group status within the situation, common goals, intergroup cooperation and authority support. Further research has built upon this theory to show that contact (even without those conditions) may lead to increased empathy.
For further information on the above methods, see our Resources page to download a complete copy of our bibliography.