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Feng Shui Remedies: The Neighborhood

December 6th, 2009

feng-shui-neighborhood.jpgBefore superhighways whipped across America and airplane routes were as heavily trafficked as Main Street USA, neighborhoods were our second skin. We knew who lived in the homes that dotted our streets. We were known by the merchants as well as the moms and pops who spent their leisure time on their porches or backyards. In short, we lived in a world that stayed familiar.

Unlike other species, we are able to modify our surroundings to stretch the borders of our lives. It is not enough to be fed sufficiently and housed securely. We humans have doggedly searched for new ways to minimize our need for the art of survival and maximize the experience of pleasure and leisure. In doing so we sometimes overlook the fact that our empowerment lies in a feeling of connection to family and community.

A neighborhood has a personality much as an individual does. Taste, as well as social and economic conditions, reflects into our lives much as a mirror reflects an image. Certainly there are those who overcome the disadvantages of living within a diseased social structure, but for the most part our lives reflect our extended surroundings.

I could no more live in a neighborhood with uniform, manicured lawns than a fish could live without water. Instead I choose to live in an eclectic neighborhood where individualism is stamped on every parcel of land. Being enveloped in a unique environment reinforces my desire to discover my own special qualities.

There is a finite number of people who can live together and consider themselves a unit. There is an ideal size for a classroom, town, state, or nation, but suburban/urban sprawl has begun to challenge human cohesiveness. Neighborhoods are our last defense in preserving a quality of life that is sustaining and meaningful.

Many of us can remember our first day at a new school. Knowing no one and being unfamiliar with the environment, some may have felt as I did — isolated in an invisible shell. Suddenly a happy coincidence! I might have dropped something on the floor and someone helped me to retrieve it or I caught a smile on a classmate’s face and we sat down together to eat lunch. A connection was made and isolation vanished. To feel safe, noticed, and cared for is what ultimately bonds us to place.

Know that the word neighbor can mean friend, associate, companion, colleague, and mate.

Feng Shui Neighborhood Test:

  1. Score 2 if there are no footpaths connecting home to home.
  2. Score 1 if there is unsightly construction in your neighborhood
  3. Score 1 if there are no edges between lots, either artificial or natural (fences or trees).
  4. Score 1 if there is no community gathering point in the neighborhood, either commercial or informal.
  5. Score 2 if your home or a building in direct view of your home has no windows facing the street.
  6. Score 2 if you are feuding with any neighbor.

The total negative score could be 9. Naturally, curing all negative conditions is the ideal to strive toward. If you have scored almost one half of the total score, consider it a warning signal and attend to making some changes as soon as possible. Be surrounded by the best conditions to help you thrive!

If there are no footpaths connecting homes in a neighborhood . . .

Sidewalks are the veins of a neighborhood, connecting home to home and street to street. By providing safe passageways as well as definable routes, sidewalks keep a landscape peopled. It is nourishing to live in a place punctuated with a measure of activity.

The sidewalks are the common ground for individuals to become members of a larger household. Whether for play, strolls, or social intercourse, sidewalks provide a forum for connection.

Not long ago I read a glowing obituary for William Levitt, founder and builder of Levittown, an early suburban development on Long Island, New York. After World War II, to accommodate those who wanted to flee the cities, Levitt erected homes in the same way as Henry Ford manufactured automobiles. With assembly-line production concepts he streamlined construction techniques and produced affordable mass housing. Although this is a noble idea, I am enraged by his methods.

I could only grudgingly forgive his razing the natural topography, cropping hills, and filling in valleys so his road-building equipment would have the smallest area to prepare and surface.

I can somewhat understand uprooting trees and other vegetation that would restrict direct access to a building site. Dragging building materials by hand would add to a home’s expense.

Carving out similar building lot shapes and sizes would give the neighborhood a feeling of equality, somewhat like the human race having identical genetic composition. Identical layouts could be mitigated by inventiveness and imagination. Perhaps the carbon-copy look would propel families to invent, originate, and procure a uniqueness of space.

However, the last straw, the final blow to the inhabitants of this new city, was the elimination of sidewalks and a mix of residential and commercial side by side. Gone was common ground for human contact.

Streets could not provide safe connecting ground as automobiles filled up these arteries. The landscape became dotted with sealed metal cells transporting the population out of the neighborhood to shop, work, and attend school. No longer was it usual to love thy neighbor as thyself; it was now unusual to know thy neighbor.

If there are no traditional sidewalks, be inventive. Carve a piece of lawn away and create a mini-park on your front lawn. Some communities built without benefit of sidewalks are banding together to designate an access strip of land either in front or at the rear of properties to be used for walking, bike riding, or jogging. Build enthusiasm for a common path across backyards as a safe arena for children to ride bikes and people to stroll. I have seen paths defined by stones, flags, flowers, or just pebbles that cross an expanse of green lawns. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it expresses the intent to create an appropriate common walking space within a community.

Not all will support designating their private property for this use, but communities have benefited even when dotted with dead ends. Sometimes resident families’ objections crumble in the face of successful implementation.

If community consensus fails, erect a flag on your property indicating there is a meeting ground or mini-playfield on your front lawn. If you live in an apartment complex, encourage the management to provide such an area. Intention is a beginning that can forge the way to solution.

Hallways are apartments’ sidewalks. Marshall a sense of community by getting to know each other. Throw a party twice a year in your lobby or hallway! List the names of new tenants near the elevator or stairwell. In some way, shape, or form, get to know one another. We rarely turn our backs on someone we know.

If there are uncared-for pockets or construction in your neighborhood

If there is construction in your neighborhood, pick a new route home to avoid viewing it. Position a plant or any object that commands visual attention in front of the window that frames the offending view. If necessary, temporarily reposition seating in your home to avoid facing a view of the construction. Since construction is temporary, this is a temporary change in your living conditions; even if not ideal, it will soon be over.

Neighborhood blight is a more damaging, long-lasting condition. One spot of rust on a car’s exterior will eventually erode the entire body. The dreaded cancer cell starts out as merely one in a field of billions within a body. A deteriorating situation, if not altered, can encroach into more areas of our lives than we could ever imagine. Be part of a cooperative effort to clean up any blight in your neighborhood before it impacts negatively on your life.

Tear down the borders of detachment. Be part of a team to change what could become a blight to a productive, supportive part of a neighborhood. If no one else will help, do it yourself. Think of all who will benefit by your efforts. Your self-esteem will rise with your knowledge of how your efforts will serve many.

If property perimeters are not demarcated

An egg has a shell, a flower has its petals, and we have our skin to defend vital internal parts. Most living things are protected with an outer sheath. In the same way that our bodies demand privacy, so do our homes. Ancient feng shui wisdom tells us to surround our homes with a wall or fence to feel protected. We should have to reveal ourselves only when we want to.

Our homes are at the epicenter of our existence and should be safe from potential harm from the surrounding world, but in the contemporary West that need not mean removing our world from physical view. Walls and fences can further isolate our lives. Since we do not live in an extended family compound and do not have the benefit of stable communities as existed in ancient China, it is best if we participate in the life of the community by being visually connected to it. Therefore, to honor a basic condition necessary for all creatures we must define our territory without isolating ourselves.

Edward T. Hall, in his book The Hidden Dimension, writes that we have biological as well as social perimeters. Even though too much or too little space can affect us negatively, what is too much is determined by social and biological conditions. For instance, an infant needs a restricted area to feel free to explore. When the distance exceeds our capacity to understand, we can become distressed. Like animals, we need to feel that our terrain is defined. We need to know where our territory of responsibility ends and another begins.

If there are walls or fences surrounding your home, be sure that you can see past this containment to the surrounding area. A beautiful tree, a particularly pleasing vista, should be seen from inside a home. You can pick and choose, but in most cases being connected with life in a neighborhood is beneficial.

Use vegetation, like a stand of trees, a row of flowers, or vines climbing up a trellis, to clarify boundaries without obliterating views.

If you live in a neighborhood without a commercial or informal gathering area . . .

Just as a home without a gathering room would seem ridiculous, a neighborhood without a place to congregate is absurd. Even so, many communities are built without this feature.

When a suburbanite needs milk, getting it is no longer as simple as sending a child down the street to fetch it. These days families usually must drive to gather their supplies. In the process they miss many opportunities to meet as they traverse the distance in isolation.

In my current neighborhood, we have designated one neighbor’s driveway as a meeting place. The family’s garage has been transformed into a gym, with various neighbors contributing different pieces of fitness equipment. Every evening the door flings open and whoever wants to can enter for conversation or exercise. It provides for a pleasant interlude and transforms a group of homes into a neighborhood.

My parents moved into their present Florida condominium and loved it from day one. The lobby, an epicenter of condominium social life, had a bulletin board listing activities. Elevators became centers for social chitchat, and the subsequent walk to the front door a time to greet neighbors who happened to be in the hallway. All in all this mix of neighborhood and social community gave them a sense of belonging that they would have otherwise lacked if they had moved to a sidewalk-less single-family Florida neighborhood.

Discover a comfortable place to gather in your neighborhood. It may be by the school bus stop in the morning. It may be part of the lawn mowing ritual on a weekend afternoon, or at a community holiday party once a year. In any case, a traditional event can make the difference between anonymity and connection.

If your home has no windows facing the street or if from your home you can see a building with no windows . . .

In the same way as an individual needs to be connected, a community needs threads that weave all the parts together. Jane Jacobs, the social theorist whose ideas gave rise to many city planning considerations, deemed “eyes on the street” an essential ingredient in the safety, effectiveness, and spirit of a community. Without windows facing shared areas, a community will have no guardians.

Whether it’s the street, park, alleyway, or road, some view to the neighborhood is essential. A mirror pointed in the right direction can reflect a hidden view. Invent ways to position mirrors to reflect views.

Position a reading chair, a workstation, or a breakfast table to look out over some view of your neighborhood. As I write this book, I feel less sequestered because my desk looks onto the front of my home. Schoolchildren leaving each morning, surfers carrying their boards to the beach, walkers, and joggers all are a pleasant interlude from staring at my monitor, trying to conjure up the best ways to write this article.

Curing a view of a building with no windows is more difficult. The best we can do in most cases is reinforce our own connection options. Position a telephone, TV, or radio next to a window that faces a building with no eyes on the street.

If there are negative feelings between you and neighbors . . .

Although ill health does not jump to mind when you think about not getting along with neighbors, it may be an undesired result. I know a person who curtailed her fair-weather after-dinner walk because she did not want to pass the home of a family with whom she was feuding. Ultimately she gained weight due to a reduction in exercise, which caused her blood pressure to soar. Her unhealthy condition was in truth caused by the trouble she was having with her neighbors.

Our immune system, the guardian of our health, responds to human emotions. Happiness, laughter, and joy have been proven not only to maintain well-being but also to cure illness. Norman Cousins in his book Anatomy of an Illness helped to cure a connective tissue disease by inundating his life with movies, books, and friends that could make him laugh.

Whatever the neighbor did, let it go. Is holding a grudge worth the demise of your health, spirit, or joie de vivre? Probably not. Focusing on the positive, not the negative, is a way of creating abundance for yourself. Let the universal law deal with your neighbor. Rise above negativity and enjoy the fruits of positive behavior, which include health, happiness, and success.

Related Articles:

Study Feng Shui: The Power of Place
Feng Shui Elements and Directions
Feng Shui Form and Compass School


This article on Feng Shui neighborhood remedies was purchased under a private label rights (PLR) license. Attempts to track down the original author have been unsuccessful.


One Response to “Feng Shui Remedies: The Neighborhood”

  1. comment number 1 by: Tracy

    I grew up in that neighborhood of Levittown NY. It was a special time and a very special place where contrary to the author’s description, we all knew each other and watched out for each other.
    There were no fences and trees were planted, not torn down. It was the building of a real community.

    The land he chose were potato fields…homes were built and a community formed where people came to help each other if they needed it. We were more then a community, we were a family.

    Perhaps the author should have kept reading or actually questioned someone who grew up there as to what it was like. There is not one person I have met that doesn’t have the best memories of Levittown NY. Not one………..
    Including myself.

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