We Love LB had our 5th Citywide Breakfast last Saturday with over 30 different hosts in 15 different Long Beach neighbors participate. How beautiful and powerful is that?
We Love Long Beach started 12 years ago in Belmont Shore with a neighborhood breakfast. Since then, we have equipped and encouraged over 250 block connectors to host breakfasts in over 75 Long Beach neighborhoods. This week I had the opportunity to talk to Jewels Beverly about her and her husband Brandon’s recent experience hosting their first breakfast with their neighbors.
Scott Jones with We Love LB: What was your experience growing up on your block or building with your neighbors?
Jewels Beverly: Growing up, there were tons of kids on our block. We played outside for hours; riding bikes, playing tag, climbing trees, running through sprinklers, you name it. Our parents all knew one another and everyone was a friend. I think growing up with this level of outdoor play and connection was so special. It’s something that I feel has been lost somewhere along the way, but it’s what I want for my children and my neighborhood.
Scott: How has hosting your neighbors shaped your view of your neighbors?
Jewels: Life gets busy. When you’re rushing through your daily tasks to and from work, shuttling kids to whatever after school activity, etc. we often, as a family, get swept up in that and don’t take the time to stop and chat with our next door neighbors. As a neighbor, it’s easy to think someone is very private, unfriendly, etc. But as I’ve learned from hosting these events, once you stop and make that connection, it opens up a whole new view of a person. I feel most people are craving that connection, sense of togetherness and belonging. I also believe they don’t realize it until stepping out of their comfort zone a bit.
Scott: What’s one neighbor story that excites or moves you?
Jewels: After our last event, I had an elderly neighbor who lives alone come by my home and thank me for the hosting the event. She said it was the most fun she’d had in years. That was both beautiful and heartbreaking to me. I’ve learned from these events that the majority of our neighborhood is split between original owners, many living alone and young families. These two demographics have so much to offer and learn from one another.
Scott: What would you say to someone who might be nervous or hesitant to have their neighbor’s over?
Jewels: I’d say: I promise you, you will be SOOOO glad that you did. We were incredibly nervous going into our first event. What if nobody shows up? What if too many people show up!? What if we don’t know what to talk about!? As soon as people started to arrive, all those fears vanished. We’ve had great turnouts at both events and almost everyone brings something to share. Having it in the front yard and driveway makes it zero pressure for all. When we brought the invitations by, it was as simple as, “Hi, we’re your neighbors down the way and we’d love for you to stop by next weekend for pancakes!” People are so open and receptive and we end each event with our cups SO full.
Scott: Thank you for being a great neighbor. I hope others can learn and be inspired from your ongoing neighboring adventures!