Question: If we want to create a more powerful neighborhood, what information do we need?
Thoughts: To bring neighbors together there are three kinds of useful information. We have to discover our neighbors’ gifts. We have to seek out local strangers. Finally we need to find out the groups people belong to, the institutions where they work or have connections. We start with the gifts.

Question: How do you find out this information?
Thoughts: You may want to find this information in a visit with individual neighbors or calling a meeting of several neighbors.

Question: If I decide to talk to neighbors, what do we discuss?
Thoughts: It can begin by uncovering the gifts of your neighbors. Here are some ways of thinking about this.   

The kinds of gifts: There are four kinds. Three are practical. They are gifts of Head, Heart and Hand. The fourth is what you are willing to teach.

Head is knowledge. Do you know about history, language, who lives in that house.
Heart is passion. Love of children, prayer.
Hands is your skills of any kind. Carpentry, handyman, guitar, planning a garden. It is all you can do.
Teachable. What allows the gifts to build the neighborhood is our willingness to teach others. 

Here is how one group kept track of this information.
(Insert here the Guide to Capacity Inventories: Dark Blue Book. Gray rockers)

Question: How do we ask neighbors about their gifts?

This is not as easy as it might sound.

Your Introduction. Decide whether or not you want to phone a person to get together or knock on their door. Is there someone who will go with you? Friend, family member.

Three Ways to Open the Conversation:

  1. Reference. You are referred by someone. Mary said I should talk to you.
  2. Excuse. You have a specific purpose or excuse. How we can help the kids.
  3. Social. We thought it would be good if we got to know each other better. An invitation;  I would like to invite you and some others for lunch or dinner or picnic so we can meet each other.

Notes or Not: You need to discuss whether or not you want to take notes during the discussion. If you don’t take notes, write down what you have learned immediately after leaving.


  1. It is helpful to share personal information at the beginning. Interests, family, work, how long you have been here and why this neighborhood matters to you.
  2. Use the head, heart and hand ideas to guide the conversation.
  3. As you listen, try to determine what the neighbor would be willing to share, teach or do something about with others. What might be actionable. Too often we collect information and no action follows.
  4. Steer the discussion away from complaining. Be clear that you are not here to know what is wrong or what issues we are concerned about. Or what other people should be doing differently. That is not what this conversation is about. This is about our gifts and what we can do with them. This how we can make this a more satisfying neighborhood together.  

Our Questions to You:
What way of asking worked best for you?
What did you find out about the person that can result in connecting them with other neighbors?