Neighborliness in Northern California thrives online and offline

Not all neighbors are the kind you’d want  to live nearby your assignee — or yourself, for that matter.  That’s why friendly, kind, warm, and helpful neighborhoods where the residents still take time to greet you and ask how your day has been are still highly sought after, especially in today’s high-tech world where an impersonal text message is about to replace the human contact of a handshake.  The value goes a bit higher, especially if your assignee comes from a more sheltered suburbia in a cozier state, or a country where it is natural for relatives and/or friends to just drop by unannounced.

Northern California takes the  prize among the neighborhoods where people actually want to relocate to.  Twenty of its cities have made it to CBS’ top 20 American best cities to live in, among them Berkeley, Davis, Fremont,  Menlo Park, Monterey, Mountain View, Napa, Novato, Petaluma, Pleasanton, Redwood City, San Luis Obispo,  San Mateo, San Rafael, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Walnut Creek.

Palo Alto is in the number 6 spot because of its family-friendly environment, nurtured by parks where parents and children can stroll, exercise, and picnic; safe schools, where students can learn in an atmosphere that encourages courage and freedom; and wide open spaces where everyone can just take a moment to chill, breathe, and relax.

Schools do contribute to the spirit of neighborliness, remaining the best places where children can learn first hand what it means to deal with their peers in a responsible and relationship-building way. While privacy will always be respected, a few minutes’ around the greeneries of a park can lead you to kindred spirits who might be open to interesting conversation.

Some of those new neighbors can take that fondness for the greens back to their homes.  Many Northern Californians have become adept at gardening, cherishing the way that horticulture beautifies their homes while contributing to a healthy, clean environment. The more resourceful have also turned gardening to a homegrown business, cultivating produce that they can sell at a lower price to the neighbor next door.  You can’t get more neighborly than that.

Neighborliness goes a notch higher in Northern California because of its Ready Neighborhoods. The Red Cross has trained and equipped about 50 neighborhoods in the state to run emergency procedures designed to save lives and properties in cases of calamities, fire breakouts, and other dangerous incidents.  The training is based on the philosophy that one must be able to rely on – and watch out for – his neighbor.  Residents, school administrators, business owners, and non-profit organization heads will be taught not just how to put out fires or render medical aid, but they will also be shown how to build and operate shelters and temporary refuge centers.

Northern California’s neighborliness is also strong in the digital landscape which has alarmed parents, priests, teachers, and other community leaders about how its emphasis on technology over the personal has threatened to disconnect individuals from society.  Going against this tide to rebuild relationships is Nirav Tolia, a Northern California tech whiz who launched, a cross between Facebook and Craigslist with the purpose of bringing its users closer to the greater and non-virtual neighborhood around him.  Its members have actually just used the online app as a platform to actually meet in real life — and do neighborly activities like form homeowners’ associations, run garage sales, and throw entire block parties.

The next time your assignee asks you for a new workplace situated in a “nice neighborhood,” put Northern California on the list. The spirit of neighborliness is alive, strong, and growing, both online and in real life.