A neighbor's dog barks nightly from 6 to 9, wearing on your nerves.
Your daughter is getting married in a week and the whole clan will stay at your house, taking up most of the street parking.
At 30, you finally finished your bachelor's degree. The party at your house will be legendary and loud.
No matter where you live, there are right ways to be a good neighbor in each of these scenarios.
Communication is the key.
“With neighbors, like any interpersonal relationship, direct communication is the best,” said Dawn O. Braithwaite, the Willa Cather Professor and chairwoman of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln department of communication studies.
Talk to the neighbor with the barking dog, she said: “Communicate your expectations directly.” The owner may not realize the dog is barking or that it disturbs others. Give the dog's owner a chance to address the problem.
Tell your neighbors in advance when your guests will be taking most of the on-street parking spots. You can go door to door, send an email to each resident or mail out the notices. Neighbors who know the situation beforehand are less likely to be angry and more likely to offer an unused driveway spot for use.
“That's the kind of direct communication that's helpful,” Braithwaite said.
If you're hosting a party that's likely to be noisy, apologize in advance and invite the neighbors to it, she said.
“Treat people as you'd want to be treated and be as direct as possible,” she said.
How else can you be a good neighbor?
We asked neighborhood leaders throughout the metro area. Although answers varied, themes were similar.
Be proud of your community
“You must take pride in your neighborhood and be concerned with your neighbors and keep up your property,” said Ella Willis, president of the Neighborhood Action & Fact Association.
“You don't have to move to live in a better neighborhood,” she said: Make your own neighborhood better. Her neighborhood runs from 24th to 26th Streets from Wirt Street to the south side of Ames Avenue.
Terry Price of the J.E. George Boulevard neighborhood north of Memorial Park said:
“The first thing I thought of was pride in our neighborhood. People love living on J.E. George for many reasons. We feel connected to each other because of the friendliness of the neighbors.”
Watch out for your neighbors' welfare
“It's very important to be a neighbor and be a friend to those in your neighborhood. It's your responsibility as a good neighbor,” said Cheryl Wichman, secretary of the Old Market South Neighborhood Association.
“You need to have a watchful eye and be a caring person,” she said.
Jennifer Hendrickson, past president of the Montclair West and Kingswood Neighborhood Association, said residents make sure to take care of the elderly, widows and shut-in neighbors. They express their needs and we offer help, she said.
The Montclair West and Kingswood neighborhood is southwest of 132nd Street and West Center Road.
The No. 1 thing is communication, said Jim Thompson, ex-president of the Leavenworth Neighborhood Association.
Like many neighborhood associations, Leavenworth uses nextdoor.com, Facebook, a website, email and print to keep neighbors linked, he said.
Being cheerful is important, too, Thompson said: “Hi” is only a two-letter word.
Jim Clements, president of the Hanscom Park Neighborhood Association, said, “Overall, our neighborhood does a good job of connecting.” The association sponsors social events, including Front Porch Fridays, and uses nextdoor.com, Facebook and emails to connect with neighbors, he said.
Social media are most important to strengthen the neighborhood association, Clements said.
Bob Runyon, president of the Loveland Neighborhood Association, said: “The Neighborhood Watch program has always been an important force for communication and cooperation.”
The Gifford Park Neighborhood Association “works together as a unit to identify problems or something that could use some work. Then we work together to address the issue,” said Dana Carlton-Flint, past president of the group.
“Whatever we do, we essentially include all of our neighborhood members,” she said.
Giving the area a voice in city government is how the Westwood Heights Neighborhood Association got started, said Tom Everson, its chairman. Residents banded to fight what was then problem noise from nearby Omaha Track Materials.
Once an agreement was reached with the firm, the neighborhood widened its scope to begin a community garden with nearby Westwood Church and partner with the Southwest YMCA each year for National Night Out.
Keep moving forward
The Gifford Park group sponsors soccer and tennis programs for children and a youth gardening program. The group invests time with youths so they learn that helping each other is the way to do things, said Carlton-Flint.
Now those youths are offering to help because they see neighborhood residents all working toward a common goal, she said.
Everson said his group participated this year in a Place Game Workshop with Omaha By Design. It helped residents focus on future plans and grants the association might pursue. There are 1,200 to 1,300 households in Westwood Heights, which is south of West Center Road from 120th to 132nd Streets, Everson said.
Improve the neighborhood
“Not everything is up to the city. Make the neighborhood better,” Willis said. When you mow, sweep up the extra grass, don't leave it on the sidewalk or in the street, she said.
Lynne Connealy and her husband, Max, are active in the West Fairacres Association. Residents prepare, hang and maintain 54 flower baskets near Omaha Burke High School, she said.
“We try to partner with Burke High to keep the neighborhood safe,” she said. The neighborhood group takes care of Burke High Drive, which is the entry point to the residential area, she said.
Say yes to helping
“We have people willing to help out if you just ask,” said Mark Williams, president of the Stone Creek Homeowners Association. “It doesn't take a lot of money. It takes people willing to volunteer their time and do something.”
You also have to have somebody willing to step up and lead a project, Williams said.
The neighborhood — just north of the Omaha city limits near Bennington from 156th to 160th along Fort Street — sponsors 10 social events a year and somebody has to be responsible for each of them, he said.
Everson said that when he gets “we ought to have” suggestions from Westwood Heights residents, he asks: Why don't you lead that group?
“If someone won't do it, we're not ready to do it,” he said. “We're not going to become much of a neighborhood by depending on just a few people to do everything.”