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Being a Good Neighbor

Habitat for Humanity's Brush With Kindness program helps families finance repairs and renovations needed to keep their homes in safe and decent condition. A Brush With Kindness is coming to Chapel Hill, working on two homes in the historic Northside neighborhood this month, during the second week of April. The Good Neighbor Initiative and Orange County Solid Waste Management will lead a Northside CleanSweep Trash and Recyclables Walk to finish out an exciting week. The small details needed to green-light this important work have only recently fallen into place; we need a lot of volunteer help to make it a success.

The Northside Neighborhood is almost impossibly rich with history, one of our community's most diverse and exciting places to live, and one that has been in flux for a long time. Resident demographics have been shifting steadily for years. A place with many elderly residents, and property values on the rise, long time residents are being replaced, largely, by student renters when home ownership transitions. There is opportunity in diversity and change, but a respect for place and history is the only lubricant for what has been, at times, a fricative transition for this community. Habitat's A Brush With Kindness will be repairing five Northside homes over the next year, and will begin with the homes of two respected and revered neighborhood residents, Keith Edwards and Willie Mae Patterson. We're thrilled to celebrate the entire Northside neighborhood by beginning work on these homes the second week of April. Please take a few hours out of your week to give a little bit back to a neighborhood we, Chapel Hill, are privileged to call our own.

These are our workdays:
Habitat for Humanity's A Brush With Kindness: Tuesday April 9th. Wednesday April 10th. Thursday April 11th. Friday April 12th.
    - Each day will be divided into two shifts: 8am-12pm & 12:30pm-4:30pm.
    - We need twenty volunteers for each shift to get everything done.
    - Volunteers must be 14 or older and can expect to work on painting, landscaping, minor repair services, and weatherization.

Northside CleanSweep Trash and Recyclables Walk: Sunday April 14th
    - We'll gather at Hargraves Community Center's back parking lot (on Mitchell Lane, off of Rosemary Street) at 2pm. A briefing of the day will start firmly at 2:30.
    - We'll walk Northside picking up litter and distributing information from Orange County Solid Waste Management on proper recycling and hazardous waste procedure from 3 until 5pm.
    - Meet back at the parking lot at 5pm, share stories from the day, and enjoy each other's company.

Help Make It Happen
Send an email right this second to and RSVP for one, or many, of our scheduled work shifts. We'll have to keep an even spread of volunteers, so please be specific with the day(s) and shift(s) to which you're committing. If you request a shift thats filled up, we'll get back to you and work to figure something else out.

We've worked with a lot of helpful community organizations. Check out who they are and what they're about!

Habitat for Humanity:
The Town of Chapel Hill:
The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life & Community Involvement:
Carolina Leadership Development:
the Carolina Center for Public Service:
emPOWERment, INC:
the Jackson Center:
the Downtown Chapel Hill Partnership:
Orange County Solid Waste Management:


Fall 2011 Good Neighbor Initiative Pictures!

Being a Good Neighbor icon Good Neighbor Community Services Handbook (9.22 MB)

Every year the majority of UNC students who live off-campus are good tenants, neighbors and community members. For these students, semesters come and go without incident or complaint from their neighbors. However, there are also a small but significant number of student rental houses that stand out and create conflict because of unruly behavior, by tenants and/or their guests.

UNC students living off-campus have the opportunity to live more independently with increased rights and responsibilities as a student, tenant and community member. For many students this is their first time living in an independent environment within a residential community. Students’ understanding of their rights and responsibilities in this regard may be a foreign concept. However, students must remember that they are no longer living in housing provided exclusively for students, but rather a diverse community that consists of a wide variety of residents. The neighborhoods are home to families, young professionals, retired couples and other types of neighbors. UNC students need to keep these neighbors and their rights in mind while they are living off-campus. While attending UNC, students are representing the University and have the responsibility to ensure to conduct themselves and their guests in a manner consistent with The Student Code.

Although the University  works to educate students regarding responsible community living, we encourage early dialogue between students and their neighbors to cultivate mutual respect and prevent misunderstandings. If you have attempted to communicate your concerns to your  neighbors with no success please contact the appropriate Town of Chapel Hill or Carrboro office to report your concern.

Here is a Daily Tar Heel piece by UNC Student Abe Johns about living off campus:
Being a neighbor, but also a hypocrite
By Abe Johns
Lifestyle Columnist
June 3, 2010

My summer living situation is what the literary world would call ironic.

It began last summer when I signed up for a Maymester course that would cleverly count as both my fine arts and experiential education credit. The enlightening class concerned the African-American history of Chapel Hill.

As a class, we participated in the production of a play formed from the stories of actual area residents. Titled “Because We’re Still Here (And Moving),” the play was an inventive product of Hidden Voices, a nonprofit organization that works to enact change by sharing the stories of under-represented populations.

I learned a great deal of community history, from the slaves who worked for the University to Mama Dip’s opening the town’s first African-American owned restaurant.

One poignant issue made clear was the contemporary gentrification of this historic area. From Columbia Street to the McDonald’s on Franklin Street, this Northside community has historically housed working-class African Americans. The area has recently struggled in dealing with hordes of house-hunting college students.

Having been conditioned to live in small spaces from dorm life, multiple students cram themselves into the subdivided rooms of historic houses-turned-communes, lowering the rent per person and increasing affordability.

Don’t get me wrong, the University and its students have historically been the source of money that has sustained this low-income area. But the influx of 20-somethings drives up the value of the area, raising property taxes for the already underprivileged community members.

While strained economics is a side effect, gentrification often socially couples with racism. The social irresponsibility and disrespect exhibited by many students fosters much of the antagonism and has been a vocalized problem for residents.

Now, back to that irony. I moved into one of these very residences this summer. I’m sure you’re thinking, “You hypocrite!” But it was a good price and a nice place. Now, having lived here about a month, I offer a few tips for others to help ease this tension.

First, those of you who move into the area should consider yourselves community members.

Be considerate neighbors. Get to know the people you live around. Let them know when you plan on having a party and how they can contact you if it gets too loud. But also make an effort to keep stuff under control.

Second, clean up. Even if you didn’t make the mess, it takes so little effort to pick up trash. If it’s on your yard or surroundings, help the environment and neighbor relations by lending a hand.

Third, don’t be afraid to get involved. There are plenty of opportunities in the area to volunteer and help out. If you have a free weekend, try volunteering as an individual or with friends through the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service.

While property regulations and economic issues might only be dealt with on a municipal level, being a good neighbor is an easy way to promote positive change.

Click here for the Chapel Hill Guide to being a Good Neighbor

Good Neighbor Tips

Meet Your Neighbors
When you move into a new neighborhood make sure you meet the folks who live around you. When someone moves into your neighborhood, make an effort to introduce yourself to them. You could also exchange phone numbers; this could be especially useful if there is an emergency.

Know Your Neighbors
Are your neighbors a family with young children, a retired elderly couple or someone who gets up for work early in the morning, or a student? If you know this information, you will have a better chance of knowing their community expectations.

Help Your Neighbors
A neighbor can help by letting you borrow an item, collecting your mail while you are away or calling the police if there is suspicious activity. Maybe your neighbor could use help getting their trash to the curb each week.

Respect Your Neighbors
Consider how your lifestyle may be having a positive or negative impact on your community. Are you taking steps that will help you fit into your neighborhood and establish a positive relationship with your neighbors? Or are you creating an environment which is putting you at odds with your neighbors? Some behavior is regulated by the law or town ordinance, but some behavior is unacceptable by unwritten community standards. You may not always agree with your neighbor, but try to respect the reasonable community expectations that have been established in the neighborhood. If a neighbor asks you to adjust your behavior due to it bothering them, give their request some serious consideration. You may be able to compromise.

Communicate With Your Neighbors
Keep the lines of communication open. If there is a concern, it could be addressed early to avoid any long-term tension. If you are having a party, let your neighbor know and ask them to call you if there are any concerns. Be sure to address the concerns or they may call the police first the next time.

Get Involved

Many local communities and neighborhoods have opportunities to get involved, such as Neighbood Watch programs, clean-ups, yard sales, annual service projects and special events. Take an active role right where you live!

The Good Neighbor Initiative (Click here for video)

For the past several years, UNC has partnered with the Chapel Hill Police Department, EmPOWERment, the Northside, Pine Knolls and Cameron-McCauley Historic neighborhoods, and several other local agencies to coordinate the Good Neighbor Initiative and Neighborhood Night Out. The Good Neighbor Initiative is really two events. The first, a community walk-around, takes place early in the Fall academic semester and involves teams of students, University staff and local community volunteers walking through the historic neighborhoods surrounding UNC and downtown and meeting student and year-round residents. The teams pass out information about positive community living and local resources, and invite residents to a second event, the Block Party and Neighborhood Night Out. This second event takes place in late September at the Hargraves Center in the Northside neighborhood. It involves a short "take back our streets" walk followed by a community celebration with food, music, and games.

If you have questions or are interested in finding out more about the Good Neighbor Initiave, please contact Aaron Bachenheimer in the Dean of Students Office by emailing him at

The Jackson Center (

At the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, history isn’t just what happened once but what we do with the past now. Located at the gateway to the historic Northside neighborhood in Chapel Hill, the Center is where history happens.
The MCJ Center is a collaborative initiative of St. Joseph C.M.E., Northside neighbors, residents, and friends, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The first public history center of its kind in North Carolina, it is a hub of activities dedicated to honoring everyday history-makers by

  • Preserving our legacies in word, song, and image
  • Making those legacies widely available
  • Following the example of creative service and leadership that they embody

How you can be involved in building community through history:

  • Tell us.  No one can tell your story the way you can.  Allow a youth intern or Center staff member to hear and to record your life history.
  • Come visit.  Stop by the Center.  Enjoy our photo gallery and the extraordinary collection that makes up the John “Yonni” Chapman Peace and Justice Library.
  • Join in.  ttend Sustaining OurSelves (SOS) meetings.  Send your stories, recipes, neighborhood notes, favorite photos, and letters of concern for publication in the Northside News.  Be part of a local working group or join our listserv.
  • Help out.  Be a people-resource.  Join the Food Ministry team.  Participate in developing local events.  Support youth internships.  Offer tutoring or a workshop in your area of interest.
  • Envision.  Share your ideas for the Center.  Suggest ways we can work together to save and make history in the Northside, across Chapel Hill/Carrboro and the surrounding counties, and throughout North Carolina.
  • Donate.  Support the Center with your financial contributions and/or the gift of your archival materials.