Shootings prompt question: Know your neighbors?

Going door to door in Bend, we find many don't

Do you know your neighbors nowadays?

BEND, Ore. - In this day and age, it's less and less likely you talk to everyone you pass by on the street, maybe even your next-door neighbor.

In light of two recent fatal shootings in Central Oregon neighborhoods, that's a question that can come to mind.

So I decided to do a little experiment  to find out: How well you know your neighbors?

I went knocking on the doors of a southeast Bend neighborhood to find that out.

And as you might suspect, many residents couldn't say the name of a single neighbor.

"I know, the lady who lives there because she owns the unit, and the guy across the street, but that's really all I know," said one neighbor.

But over in one northwest Bend neighborhood, all three people I talked to could name almost every person on the block.

Overall, four of the seven people I talked to in different neighborhoods could not name their next-door neighbor. And research shows that's not uncommon.

According to a recent Pew Research study, nearly 60 percent of Americans don't know their neighbors' names.

"We're more individuals now than we were 20-30 years ago here in Central Oregon," said COCC sociology Professor Tom Barry.
Barry says neighborly relationships have declined in the U.S. since the 1970s.

But to some, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just the change in society.

"A lot of things that used to be done in the neighborhood are done in a private format, where they are going to lessons, sports -- whatever the activity may be," Barry said. "So they do them outside of their community network, vs.  the community being a place where they hang out after school or go borrow food, that reliance on the community."

Bend police say they rely on neighbors to help with specific cases, and participating in something like a Neighborhood Watch program can add a sense of security.

"It's great to pool your resources together and watch out for each other like that, and to have an organized group like that to help keep a look out for suspicious activity," said Lt. Paul Kansky.

You've heard of the quote, "Good fences makes good neighbors" -- and in a place like Bend, where few people have long-term roots, that may never change.

 "This is our fifth house that we lived in since we've lived in Central Oregon for 13 years, and I can honestly say this is the first neighborhood that I've actually really known my neighbors," said one resident.

For more information on the Bend Neighborhood Association and Neighborhood Watch programs, visit and

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