Neighboring Week encourages coming together and embracing inclusivity

These days, it’s not uncommon to consider your own neighbors as strangers. As part of National Good Neighbor Day on September 28,  Midland’s Neighboring Week invites residents to embrace their community, support small businesses, and expand community groups. 

The Cultural Awareness Coalition (CAC), an initiative of the Midland Area Community Foundation, hosts this county-wide celebration from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2. 

Co-Chair of the CAC and Chair of the Neighboring Committee,Trisha Fenby, says the organization’s mission is to encourage and embrace diversity within the community. 

Neighboring expands outside of a particular suburban street, but rather, a church, school, or job.
“I grew up here in Midland, I was born and raised here,” Fenby says. “When I was growing up, we’d go visit my grandma, and everyone would hang out on my grandma’s front porch, and the kids would go play. I don’t see that anymore. People are so busy. They pull in from work, open the garage door, pull in the garage, shut it, and never see your neighbors.”

Fenby says the goal of the annual event, part of a larger national effort, is to embrace inclusivity within your own neighborhood.

“When we think about inclusivity and diversity,sense of belonging, and having a thriving community, it all starts in your neighborhood. Being a good neighbor is essential to feeling safe and valued,” she says.

Fenby considers the word neighboring to be a verb. “I think about having that connection, and relationship with people around me. My personal reasons for being involved in this is that I have a daughter who has a disability. Having our neighbors know her, understand her and her disability, made it safer for her to be more independent in our community, which gave her an opportunity to be more connected and belong.”

“To me, neighboring just means reaching out, getting to know, and being respectful of the people around you,” she says.

For others, neighboring expands outside of a particular suburban street, but rather, a church, school, or job. “There’s other good places to be a neighbor,” Fenby says. “We want neighboring to occur all the time, not just one week out of the year.”

Neighboring Week’s website provides toolkits, an online submission form to host your own Neighboring activities, and a schedule of events. Planned activities include local block parties and small businesses joining forces, offering special discounts and donating partial proceeds to local organizations. 

Kids can also participate in Neighboring Week.
On Sept. 24, Creative 360 hosts a non-violent peace force block party from 2 to 5 p.m. with food trucks, games, art, face painting, and music. 

On Sept. 26, the Safe & Sound Child Advocacy Center hosts Brownies & Bookmarks for Educators from 1 to 3 p.m. The Midland Police Department hosts a Car Seat Check & Food Drive Event from 4 to 7 p.m. Those who donate non-perishable food items to The Bridge Food Center can receive hot dogs, chips and refreshments.
On October 1 the Fall Harvest Festival will be held at the Chippewa Nature Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with free demonstrations, crafts, and harvest season activities. 

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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at