Being a Good Neighbor
BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Fence Line Communities + Industrial Neighbors
Many of us are not aware about what happens in communities that are located next or near to
natural gas drilling, landfills, chemical production and other toxic industrial plants. They are called fence line communities. These communities are usually located in communities of color and/or poverty, but not always. What would you do if you heard a natural gas platform was going to be located 1 mile from your child’s school? Would you know what to do to even ask questions?
In many of these communities there are increased rates of asthma, cancer and other chronic
diseases. Are we loving our neighbors if their kids are chronically ill? As Moms and more importantly as Christians, we must be aware and protect everyone. The first step in caring for your neighbor is understanding what issues your neighbors are dealing with. You don’t have to be an activist to be a prayer warrior. Let the praying begin.
SPEAKER OR VIDEO PROGRAM
Community Activist working in a Fence Line Community, Mom’s Clean Air Force Organizer, Local pastor in a Fence Line Community, EEN Director of Women’s Ministries.
- How would you feel if a toxic plant was being built in you community?
- What steps would you take to get more information about the proposed plant?
- How as Christians can we serve our neighbors who are struggling in communities facing these issues?
- How can our local churches help these communities obtain clean air, clean water and a healthy community?
- How can moms support moms in these communities?
Visit Moms Clean Air Force Toxic Chemicals Section on Website. Order pamphlets from Mom’s Clean Air to hand out at meeting.
ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES FOR OFF MOPS MEETING WEEKS
- Write letters of encouragement to churches in a fence line community.
- Create packets that include education about living more toxin free to distribute to neighbors in fence line communities. Might include water filters.
- Take a prayer walking tour in a fence line community.
There are dozens of ways to be a good neighbor, but being a good neighbor in a community you have no connection with is a bit more challenging. We believe the best way to love on these communities is to partner with a local church either through your MOPs group or through your church. To find a churchto partner with start with your own pastors. They probably have connections you don't know about. Contact your local elected official. They might be able to point the way. If there are no connections then, find the area in town with the highest concentration of industrial sites next to neighborhoods and start calling churhces in the area. Remember we are not here to save the neighborhood. We are not superior to these communities. Our job is to walk alongside these neighbors and love them. It's not going to happen overnight and it's a long term commitment not a one-off event. Go in with an open heart and ask the pastor what they think the community needs before making suggestions.
- Share a smile. How often do we really do it? Really look into someone's eyes and then smile. Years ago someone in my Sunday School class said that one of the biggest challenges we have as a society is we don't look into people's eyes anymore. I scoffed, but she was absolutely right. Practice smiling at the grocery store, at church, at daycare. Really stop and take the extra 5 seconds to smile and maybe say thank you. You will be shocked by the results. Then when you are prepared to go into unknown communities you will then be in practice which will make it easier. Want to know how much a smile is worth? Think about how many times it happens to you. Count how many smiles you get in a day that are real. Did you get any? Maybe a few? Then reflect on how this makes you feel. Then go out and do it. Then you can be the salt and light and start sharing smiles.
- Donate books to a fenceline community. Maybe it goes through the school or maybe through the church you partner with, but books in homes is a big challenge in disadvantaged homes. Think about the joy you have reading to your children. That snuggly, warm fuzzy feeling when your child has a favorite book and they have memorized it. What would you chose if you had to put food on the table or buy a book? It is something that many of us take for granted. So why not have a new or gently used book drive. (You know we like the whole reuse theme.) If you have a book drive, make sure that the books are in good condition. No torn pages, folded, colored in. Books that you would regift to a friend. That is the condition the books should be in. This might become an annual drive for your MOPs group. Also, be aware that the library is not the solution for this project. We love libraries but this is about kids having book ownership. If your book drive ends up being blessed with extra books then see if you can donate to a local library. Then the drive becomes a double blessing. Learn more about why books at home matter.
- Organize a litter pick-up day with a local church in a fenceline community. What better way to learn about the community then to walk the community. This is a great way to partnership with a church and can be a whole family activity if the kids are a bit older. Loving your neighbors means you show that you care. One of the often missing pieces of the disadvantaged community is the stress of daily life when you are struggling to put food on the table and care for your kids when you may be working three jobs. Walking the neighborhood meeting people as you work will give you a better understanding of what the community is like and it might give you some ideas on how else you can engage with the community.
- Host a community meal for local moms. After you have built relationships with the chruch, why not host a meal? Everyone loves to eat. Don't plan a program. Just visit. Make sure everyone doesn't cluster together. Make sure the kids are included. That's a great ice breaker. Don't have anything in common? You have your kids. It's an instant community in itself. Maybe distribute the books at the luncheon. Pray together. Listen to each other. Then let the Holy Spirit lead you.
- Make toxin free baby kits for moms. Every mom needs extra help. So create a kit for new moms that includes items that are toxin free. Maybe put some unusual things like a couple of LED bulbs. That will help reduce electric bills. You can add also toxin free soaps. Buy in bulk for soaps. We like Dr. Bronner's baby soap. They come in six packs and we trust Dr. Bronner's and so does MOPs. They were at the MOPs MomCon conference in 2017.