Did you know there are ways you can “get to know” your neighbors before you “get to know” them? While you may not get all the specific information you can in a personal conversation, doing your research can help you understand the metanarrative of your neighborhood and community. There are a couple of ways I have gone about gathering research:
(1) Internet Research
Google is really an amazing thing. You can learn the history of your city, gain a better understanding of the annual rhythms of major events and/or celebrations, and gain insight into aspects that make the city attractive to others. More specifically, you can review census data from various sites such as USA.com and demographic data for your very own city block (census tracks, census block groups and census blocks).
(2) Paid Research
A popular company for gathering research in a community in Percept Group. For example, their Ministry Area Profile gives you roughly 20 pages of demographics and data nicely compiled with charts and graphs to analyze.
When you gather your research, you can compare the data with the details and stories of people you meet and gain a holistic picture and profile of the needs, challenges, and opportunities to your neighborhood.
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