Neighbor Day designed to strengthen the community | ParkRecord.com

Neighbor Day designed to strengthen the community

Maziarz hopes activities will bridge gaps

Mary Beth Maziarz, lifts her daughter Daisy and a goat during a goga session. Goga, yoga with a goat, is one of the activities planned for Neighbor Day 2017.

Park City resident Mary Beth Maziarz wants to see local residents come together, especially within their own neighborhoods.

"Many of us will wave from our cars or say hello when we see them walking their dogs, but it's just too easy to be in a hurry and drive past people on our way to the wonderful events that happen in this town and not have that space to stop and get to know our neighbors." Maziarz said during an interview with The Park Record. "This was the impetus for Neighbor Day."

Maziarz is one of the founders of Park City Neighbor Day, which was a project for Leadership Park City's Class 21 three years ago. The organization, which trains local leaders, decided to designate the fourth Saturday of September as a day for people to reach out and get to know their neighbors.

Although this year's date is Sept. 23, Maziarz said people can celebrate Neighbor Day any time throughout the weekend.

"This is coming up on our third year, and we're excited to see some of the fun activities local neighborhoods are doing to connect," Maziarz said.

Neighbor Day activities can be anything a neighborhood or household wants to do.

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"Some past innovative ideas include playing ping pong in the driveway, taking a group of neighbors on a hike and a neighborhood garage sale," Maziarz said. "We heard of talent shows, and, in some cases, where people have brought their ethnic heritage into some of these events so the neighbors can get to know the families and their traditions."

This year, on neighborhood will participate in Goga, goat yoga.

"It’s a practice where mini goats clamber on participants as they take a great outdoor yoga class,” Maziarz said.

There is no limit to how big or how small the activity can be.

"Sometimes the smaller groups allow for longer conversations," Maziarz said. "The important thing is to make a connection, because the human connection remains an important and instinctual need for people. It gives us a sense of safety. It keeps you healthy by lowering your blood pressure."

Maziarz knows, however, that there are some people have a hard time reaching out.

"This was part of the original idea behind this project," said Maziarz, who was a degree in American Culture major at Northwestern University. "One of the things we talked about was how styles of architecture and yards affected social culture over the years."

After World War II, American houses were set back further from the street.

"Many front doors are further away from the street than they have been in the past," she said. "Even a 30-foot space from the street to the home creates a psychological barrier. The longer the set back, the more intimidating it is to connect with someone, and in Park City, sometimes a front door is a quarter-mile away."

On the other hand, there are people who find it difficult to receive someone who visits unannounced.

"I, too, wonder why someone is ringing my doorbell when it's not UPS delivery," Maziarz said. "But these are things we need to overcome in order for us to meet new people and get to know each other. It's like a catch 22. You want to feel safe knowing the people who come to your door, but you can't do that unless you meet them. So hopefully Neighbor Day will help with this."

Anyone who wants to do something but lacks ideas, can visit the Neighbor Day website, http://www.pcneighborday.org.

"While you're there, you can take the three neighbor pledge, where you promise to introduce yourself to three new neighbors," Maziarz said. "Also, if you choose to do something for neighbor day, you can post it on our Neighbor Day map."

The post won't go into detail about the activities, it will just show that people participated in Neighbor Day.

Maziarz hope this year's Neighbor Day will bring more people together.

"I feel particularly exhausted at the end of the summer because we are all so busy, but our hope is that by Sept. 23 we all will be a little rested and back into the groove of jobs and school," she said. "So I'm hoping people will take the effort to connect and strengthen relationships in the neighborhood."

For information about Park City Neighbor Day 2017, visit their website.