Barbara Bridgewater and Being a Good Neighbor

by | Mar 6, 2021 | New/s @ Good Neighbor, Principles

This week, I had the pleasure of talking with Barbara Bridgewater, one of the Board Members at Good Neighbor House. Of everyone I’ve interviewed so far, Mrs. Bridgewater has been working with Good Neighbor House the longest, so I was interested to learn her perspective on the role of the organization.

She described herself as someone who’s lived in the neighborhood for a long time. She loves the community, and told me how everyone always checks in on each other, they know each other’s names, and they all make an effort to get to know who their neighbor is. What she was describing was not my own experiences with neighborhoods, but it seems ideal: neighbors all have relationships with each other, she pointed out to me, because they all make an effort to do so.

She told me about helping her daughter during her recent move to Austin. She took her daughter to meet her new neighbors, and the neighbors were shocked, as if no one had ever tried to be neighborly in this way. She was helping her daughter and her daughter’s neighbors recognize that a good neighbor is someone who talks to their neighbors.

One of Mrs. Bridgewater’s interesting observations is her view of “privacy fences”: she said that the fences in her community are too high and prevent some people from being neighborly. She said these real life fences represent metaphorical fences people put up between themselves and others for the sake of “privacy” and “independence.” She observed that relying on others these days is seen as a sign of weakness, and she wishes that people would get back into the habit of finding a support group and leaning on them when you need help.

For the Waco Community, Good Neighbor House attempts to help people discover, learn about, and participate in various kinds of support groups that people can lean on. I really appreciated Mrs. Bridgewater’s point that people are trying to be too self-reliant these days. It reminds me of an African Proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”