Know Your Neighbor Project


Niagara Foundation’s “Know Your Neighbor” (KYN) initiative aims to create and sustain friendly relationships among people who, without even knowing about it, spend a significant part of their lives within close proximity of each other. In this context, a neighbor is defined as anyone within one’s daily life, such as actual street neighbors, members at the same gym, participants in the same poetry class, etc., as well as the family and friends of these people. The goal of KYN initiative is to recognize those individuals we see every day and establish a connection to create a more caring, welcoming environment. This can be as involved as organizing a breakfast, dinner, BBQ or as simple as inviting someone over for a cup of tea or coffee.

Between December 8 – 17, 2017, participants of KYN initiative will get together to have more meaningful conversations about what matters to us as a community. By learning from each other, we want to celebrate our diversity in a shared society.


If you would like to join a KYN gathering as a host or guest, please reach Ali Durhan at [email protected]

Why it matters

The neighborhood is the solid foundation of the community. Creating a caring, more united neighborly connection strengthens our local communities and society as a whole. The neighborhood network helps us all to overcome the everyday obstacles and challenges we face. By getting together and learning from each other, we will have the opportunity to create a more peaceful society.

Guiding Principles

  • Create a space of equality: all members are respected regardless of profession, faith, culture, etc.
  • Create a space for inclusivity: Encourage all voices to share and participate, but respect people’s space and a person’s decision to not participate.
  • Avoid generalizations. Do not substitute labels for complicated realities, avoid arguments, and do not cut-down any group.
  • Respect differences within one’s tradition and the tradition of others.
  • Listen, listen, and when there’s nothing left to do, listen. Be curious, its natural, ask respectively.
  • Include your family. Introduce your children, spouse, etc.

My Neighbor & My Day!

  • Think about your neighbors* and create your guest list – consider reaching out to people you see all the time but never had a chance to know them well.
  • Decide the best date option for you – December 8 – 17, 2017.

The Size & The Venue!

  • Identify the size of the event – KYN is all about meaningful conversations – 4 to 8 people is ideal!
  • Decide what kind of event you would like to host – breakfast, lunch, dinner or in-between.
  • Decide where you would like to host the event – your home, park, coffee shop, etc.

Introduce, Invite, and Ask!

  • Introduce yourself and KYN initiative to your potential guests
  • Extend the invitation in writing or in person with an RSVP date
  • Ask if they have any dietary restrictions; Halal, Kosher, etc.
  • Don’t forget to involve the kids!
  • Two or three days before, send a reminder.

* A neighbor is defined as anyone within one’s daily life, such as actual street neighbors, members at the same gym, participants in the same poetry class, classmate, or your colleague, etc., as well as the family and friends of these people.

Sample Conversational Questions

  1. First, let everyone introduce each other briefly and ask them how they have gotten to where they are today.
  2. What is the importance of culture / race / religion to your development?
  3. What impact has culture / race / religion had on you?
  4. Why do you believe it is important or not to maintain cultural practices, traditions, language through the generations?
  5. What are some current problems facing acceptance of diversity in US?
  6. How can these problems be addressed societally?
  7. How can these problems be addressed on a more individual level, such as by people in this community?
  8. What is the importance / significance of this event?
  9. What kind of change can this event promote and how can its impact be made to last?
  10. Discuss future initiatives that this group can continue. For instance, rotating hosting households.

Sample Agenda

  1. Welcome your guests
  2. Introductions
  3. Explain the purpose of the gathering (KYN)
  4. Serve Food
  5. If a cultural dish served, explain the food and do not hesitate to share recipe
  6. Review the guiding principles and suggested questions
  7. Plan for a future gathering
  8. Take some pictures and share your story via social media #hostyourneighbor
  9. Closing words

For your first meal, you may find that introductions could fill the entire evening. That’s great! Don’t feel as though you need to rigidly adhere to this supplied “road map”.

A third of Americans today have never interacted with their neighbors. It is important to build a more friendly and trusted community, which doesn’t happen magically over the night. It usually occurs with a series of small actions over time. All it takes is a very simple ‘hi!” once in a while to foster small connection, which may be followed by a cup of coffee and a great long-lasting friendship.

It is important to share your story and encourage your friends to host a KYN gathering to turn their everyday encounters into meaningful friendships!

Share Your Story

Please help us to spread your experience by sharing your story through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) #hostyourneighbor





The views and opinions expressed on The Falls are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Niagara Foundation, its staff, other authors, members, partners, or sponsors.