Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shoveling Trust

Kit Hodge, CEO of the Neighbors Project, sent me an e-mail about a way to say thank you to those residents who bother to keep their sidewalk clear of snow:

Snow both adds to the charm and creates a lot of frustration in Pittsburgh. I've walked around the city after it's snowed, and I rarely looked up from the ground since it was endless patches of ice and mountains of snow. Now that it's the snow season, your readers might be interested in our new, free "Thank you for shoveling" cards, designed to encourage your neighbors to shovel the sidewalks during the winter.

It's easy to curse your neighbors when it takes you ten extra minutes to get to work in the morning because you have to wade through snow or jump over slush. We're making it easy for people to do something constructive and neighborly about keeping their block shoveled this winter. We'll send you cards, and all you have to do is drop them in the mailbox of your neighbors who shovel. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way towards making a snow-free and friendlier block. This definitely won't work for people living in larger buildings controlled by a management company but in mid- and low-rise areas with more homeowners it's a good solution to the eternal neighborhood problem of sidewalks blocked by snow.

While I don't live in Pittsburgh, most of my readers do. So, I thought I'd pass along the idea. Youngstown recently gave thanks to those people thoughtful enough to extend the courtesy after a recent snowfall. And now that I am a homeowner in a small Colorado city, I make an effort to clear the way for my neighbors who enjoy an early morning stroll.

As the geographic mobility of labor continues to increase, so will the number of strangers living down the street from you. You might notice these dynamic communities by the lack of shoveling in public passageways. Or, a neighbor who is physically unable to do the task loses the friend who always made sure the snow was removed. The Neighbors Project would seem to cleverly address the eroding trust that results from demographic turnover.

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