Is the Concept of Neighborliness a Thing of the Past?

Do you trust your neighbors? Results of a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center indicate that our level of neighborly trust is pretty depressing. Nearly half (48 percent) of the Pew survey respondents reported that they either don’t trust any of their neighbors or trust only a few.

Sadly, these results may have a link to safety concerns. As Suzanne De Vita posts on RISMedia’s Housecall, fewer than 20 percent of people interviewed for the Pew survey said they didn’t feel “at all” safe from crime walking in their neighborhoods at night but actually trusted the people next door. And, perhaps not surprisingly, those in rural areas were more apt to feel safer and trust their neighbors than urban dwellers.

Although most adults believe it’s important for neighbors to look out for each other, today’s neighborhoods are not as tightly knit as they were in the 1940s and ’50s, when neighbors knew one another well. In a related Pew survey, 54 percent of respondents said that they do not hold regular social gatherings with their neighbors. Indeed, today, people are more apt to recognize their neighbors’ cars and pets than the neighboring adults or their kids.

According to social scientists, the way we react and behave toward each other is less civil when trust is low, which is a vicious circle, as this only exacerbates the trust deficit. The problem is fixable, though; neighbors can rebuild community and strengthen civic life (perhaps by harnessing technology to widen their circle of acquaintances) and become more civically involved.

These Hacks Cut Noise in Open Concept Spaces

There’s no question that open concept living is still the way to go for designers and their decorista clients. And why not? It can make a space feel large and airy, provide the room-to-room flow that supports today’s relaxed lifestyles, plus it’s so in now that alternatives look dated.

But with the open concept lifestyle comes a problem: no walls means no sound barriers, which can raise noise issues for families with competing priorities. Fortunately, there are hacks to deal with all that racket:

Pad it, literally

If your open living area is a hardscape, without soft materials to absorb sound, fabric can help. Thick, high-quality floor coverings are a great first step. You don’t have to install wall-to-wall carpeting (although that would work wonders); instead, consider adding an area rug to anchor your living room furniture.

If well chosen for their sound-absorbing properties, fabric window coverings also make sense. Eschew sheers or other similar-weight fabrics, as they haven’t the chops to do the job.

Allow for options

Create ways to divide your space at will, including popular reclaimed wood sliding doors; pocket doors that disappear when not in use, and even movable sound-absorbing panels like those dividing office cubicles. There are also elegant screens on the market today that demarcate and reduce sound while keeping that open feeling.

Switch up your flooring

Hardwood, stone, and tile floors may look lovely, but they’re part of the problem, not the solution. Cork is a wonderful option, and it comes in all sorts of styles and colors these days. And like wood, cork is soft and comfortable to walk on. While concrete may also absorb sound (and look great), don’t install it in locations where you’ll be standing for any period of time, like the kitchen. Your legs and feet will notice.

With these and other hacks, decoristas can have it all.