Say 'Hi' to Waltham
(Map via reachma.org.)
So how’s that New Year’s resolution treating you? Yup, it’s February, which means that most of those high-minded goals you set for yourself on the first of the year have already been tossed aside (probably next to your pair of unworn gym shoes). But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to pick up good new habits. The key, they say, is starting small.
Which is why I was excited to hear about Waltham’s Small Actions campaign taking place this week. In collaboration with local nonprofit REACH, Waltham mayor Jeannette McCarthy launched “Say Hi to Your Neighbors Week” to encourage residents to reach out to one another. Seems nice enough, right? Sure. But the underlying message is that talking to your neighbors matters in that it can help create a safer community and stop the spread of domestic violence.
Waltham is angling to get 2012 people to say hello to their neighbors by this Sunday, and they’re letting people log their greetings on an online map (so far they’re just over halfway to the goal). Local businesses and churches are in on the action, too, offering coffee and cupcakes to facilitate more hellos. And the campaign is also digital with the @SmallActions Twitter feed and #sayhiWaltham hashtag.
“The personal connection to one another makes a difference — people will talk to someone they know about their problems before going to someone like REACH,” Allison Berry, the community organizer for REACH, tells the Globe. “Families and neighbors are the first people to know. It’s about building relationships.”
It’s said that it takes about two weeks for something to become a habit, so here’s hoping that Waltham’s small actions extend for much longer than Sunday. And just think: It’s a small action that the rest of us can take, no matter where we live.