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Community Satisfaction Demands Interaction

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you may not stop to ponder the impact that your community has on your attitudes and behaviors, but the University at Buffalo has done that for you — and discovered several key points that determine whether you’re satisfied with your community or not. Or, make that whether your community is satisfied with YOU. One way to improve overall community attitude and feelings of satisfaction is to simply interact with your neighbors, researchers said. In other words, being neighborly is an important component of a neighborhood.

I would guess that many of us don’t spend a lot of time studying how our neighborhood affects our daily lives, or how we affect their neighborhood, but the truth is behavioral specialists are very much aware of just how much a neighborhood and its surroundings affect behavior. For example, did you know that one very good way of fighting crime is to plant gardens?

In an experiment, researchers “greened” abandoned lots, cleaned up trash and debris, graded the land, planted grass and trees and basically created a park-like setting — and found that their efforts were rewarded with a reduction in gun violence, burglaries and other nuisances in the greened neighborhoods. In neighborhoods below the poverty line, this reduced overall crime by 13 percent and gun violence by 30 percent!

When researchers moved their greening efforts to prison populations, those “communities” improved similarly, with “stellar” results that extended beyond the prison walls after inmates finished serving their sentences. Prisoners aren’t the only population that stands to benefit from gardening, though: Benefits have also been revealed for older adults. In those who are institutionalized, gardening promotes an “internal locus of control and well-being,” similar to what is experienced by those prison inmates.

Likewise, you can create a feeling of accomplishment, pride and satisfaction in your own home and neighborhood with gardening activities. In fact, a study in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports concluded, "A regular dose of gardening can improve public health," noting that gardening is associated with reductions in depression and anxiety and increases in life satisfaction, quality of life and sense of community. If you’re ready to get started, here are 10 DIY gardening hacks to help you create the perfect garden.

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