By Scott Jones
A few years ago some good friends and I moved to the Willmore City neighborhood across the street from Drake Park. Our new home was a stone’s throw away from the LA River, and next door to the historical Bembridge House. One of the reasons we moved into the neighborhood was to practice being good neighbors with the residents around us. We wanted to practice the art of hospitality through welcoming new neighbors to dinner, regular BBQs, and to learn to care for each other. We knew that food was a great way to move from strangers to friends with our neighbors.
The day we moved in, our neighbor Ilda introduced herself. She invited us to dinner with her husband, and her teenage son. My friends and I were thrown off. We were moving on to the block to practice hospitality with her, and instead Ilda was the one offering hospitality to us. We agreed to the invitation, and the dinner was a catalyst toward many other friendships with neighbors, and many more parties with one another. We learned our first day at our Drake house that hospitality is reciprocal. It is to be given and also received. Hospitality was for us the first step toward neighborliness.
We Love Long Beach believes building communities of hospitality is the single most important thing that we can do on our blocks with neighbors. It is often the most neglected practice in our city due to fear, busyness, and cultural barriers. Regaining the momentum of hospitality through welcoming neighbors into our lives has the ability to restore individual and communal health, economics, safety, and happiness to our city. We all have what it takes to be valuable and useful to our neighbors. We have enough, and we are enough. There is abundance all around us.