How to Make a Dream Neighborhood: Resource Sharing and Collaborative Communities

Do you know what changes our behavior? Our friends. Our neighbors. Our communities. Do you know what makes us happy? Our friends. Our neighbors. Our communities. Social psychology research tells us that social support and social norms can help lead to long-term behavior change, and that the more you engage in your community, build social ties, and find purpose in life, the happier you’ll be.

Apparently, most of us really care about what everyone else is doing—so much so that we’re more likely to reuse our towels at a hotel if we learn that the majority of other guests are doing the same thing. This message is much more effective than, say, statistics-heavy cards telling us about the environmental or financial savings of towel reuse. We are social animals: we want to connect with others, and the social norms of our culture and communities influence what we consider to be normal. In addition, the more we create social connectedness in our lives and spend even small amounts of time volunteering, the better we feel about ourselves and our lives.

The Charlottesville, Virginia-based Center for a New American Dream recently surveyed its members and found that there’s a pent up demand for more social interaction with neighbors. More than 70 percent of folks who took part in the survey are also looking for more opportunities to volunteer and make their communities better places to live and thrive. In response, New Dream has created its Collaborative Communities neighbor-to-neighbor program to help people around the country come together in their own backyards to make change.

As part of this program, New Dream has created a free and easy-to-use Community Action Kit and solutions-based Webinar Series. The initial focus has been on fostering systems of sharing—from creating lending libraries (toys, tools, seeds) and forming cooperatives (solar energy, babysitting, food), to hosting community swaps (books, food, clothing) and facilitating barter systems (time banks and skillshares).

Sharing resources is becoming increasingly popular as communities across the United States suffer from the effects of community fragmentation, economic downturn, and environmental degradation. Many folks are finding that it’s more fun and more neighborly to swap, borrow, or trade the many things we own that sit untouched for most of the year or get thrown away. For example, the average American uses his or her car only 8 percent of the time, while the average power drill is used only 6–13 minutes in its lifetime. And we waste close to $22 billion a year to pay for storage to house all of our excess stuff!

In May, New Dream will release the second guide in its Community Action Kit, the Guide to Going Local, in collaboration with BALLE, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. The guide and accompanying webinars will encourage people to start their own community projects and share success stories in helping to build local pride, invest money locally, stimulate local entrepreneurship, and use fun events like cash mobs and pitchfests to encourage communities to support local businesses.

There are fun and creative ways to be neighborly that feed our social self, help set new positive social norms and help us create healthier and happier places to live, work and play. Why not get started today!?

Illustration by Josef Beery

On April 27, 2013, host a Neighborday party. Join this global celebration and follow the conversation at


This article was produced in partnership with the United Nations to launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of cooperation in building the future we want.

When half of the world's population doesn't share the same opportunity or rights as the other half, the whole world suffers. Like a bird whose wings require equal strength to fly, humanity will never soar to its full potential until we achieve gender equality.

That's why the United Nations made one of its Sustainable Development Goals to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls." That goal includes providing women and girls equal access to education and health care, as well as addressing gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.

While there is still much work to be done, history shows us that we are capable of making big leaps forward on this issue. Check out some of the milestones humanity has already reached on the path to true equality.

Historic Leaps Toward Gender Equality

1848 The Seneca Falls Convention in New York, organized by Elizabeth Lady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, is the first U.S. women's convention to discuss the oppression of women in sociopolitical, economic, and religious life.

1893 New Zealand becomes the first self-governing nation to grant national voting rights to women.

1903 Marie Curie becomes the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She is also the only woman to win multiple Nobel Prizes, for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911.

1920 The 19th Amendment is passed in the U.S. giving women the right to vote in all 50 U.S. states.

1973 The U.S. Open becomes the first major sports tournament of its kind to offer equal pay to women, after tennis star Billie Jean King threatened to boycott.

1975 The first World Conference on Women is held in Mexico, where a 10-year World Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women is formed. The first International Women's Day is commemorated by the UN in the same year.

1979 The UN General Assembly adopts the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also known as the "Women's Bill of Rights." It is the most comprehensive international document protecting the rights of women, and the second most ratified UN human rights treaty after the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1980 Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland becomes the first woman to be elected head of state in a national election.

1993 The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the first international instrument to explicitly define forms of violence against women and lay out a framework for global action.

2010 The UN General Assembly creates the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to speed progress on meeting the needs of women and girls around the world.

2018 The UN and European Union join forces on the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, it is redoubling its commitment to reach all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality. But it will take action and effort from everyone to ensure that women and girls are free from discrimination and violence. Learn more about what is being done to address gender equality and see how you can get involved here.

And join the global conversation about the role of international cooperation in building the future by taking the UN75 survey here.

Let's make sure we all have a say in the future we want to see.

via WFMZ / YouTube

John Perez was acquitted on Friday, February 21, for charges stemming from an altercation with Allentown, Pennsylvania police that was caught on video.

Footage from September 2018 shows an officer pushing Perez to the ground. After Perez got to his feet, multiple officers kicked and punched him in an attempt to get him back on the ground.

Perez claims he was responding to insults hurled at him by the officers. The police say that Perez was picking a fight. The altercation left Perez with a broken nose, scrapes, swelling, and bruises from his hips to his shoulder.

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