We have a quiet old cobblestone laneway behind our house. With our limited courtyard garden and a growing family, lately we’ve been appropriating the laneway for play and parties.

My laneway is a classic ‘loose space’. Loose spaces are public (or at least publicly accessible) spaces prone to being appropriated, temporarily or permanently, spontaneously or planned, with or without permission, to meet a need or desire. Loose spaces are full of potential, which is why I like them.

I decided to use the laneway to create conversations with my neighbours. I made an invitation and dropped it in the letterboxes of everyone within a stone’s throw of the laneway. Along with a couple of pavement posters, some chalk in the street and a notice at the local café, the stage was set!

I made sure a few of the neighbours I knew would be there. Beyond that, I had no idea who or how many would turn up. We filled the clamshell paddling pool, created a kids’ craft table, sliced some watermelon, set up a few chairs and crossed our fingers…

Within an hour, the laneway was brimming with families, couples, university students, retirees, people who had moved in last month through to people who moved in during the 1970s. It was a patchwork of people coming together off the back of a random invitation to meet their neighbours.

It reinforced for me the importance of connection with the people around us, and the impact that can come from creating a platform for conversations.

Thank you, to all the neighbours out there who show up and open up.


If you’d like to share your experience of starting conversations with neighbours, head to our Facebook page.

This blog post was sponsored by Claire Haggan, a generous Kickstarter backer and former neighbour - how appropriate!