For Asbury Street resident Claudia Filos, breaking down fences between neighbors can happen online, just as she did Saturday afternoon hosting a picnic at Patton Park in Hamilton.
Filos, her family, and several other families from the neighborhood gathered for food and conversation by the gazebo at the park; while their children ran and played, the adults chatted and joked.
But this meeting was not the usual neighborhood gathering. It didn't use "old-fashion" ways to gather neighbors and instead relied on modern technology - the Internet- by using a website called Meetup.com that lets users organize events for free.
"If it weren't for this, I'd be home doing homework," Filos said yesterday.
Filos said she began thinking about good neighbors after her son, Xander, became friendly with a boy next door. Actually, next door is through the woods and over a fence to the the property line of John and Sage Oram, and their son, Miles.
"I met my son's friend Miles, and I said, let's call them and invite them over," Filos said. "They have a fence we opened up so the boys could run through. It's really changed our lives."
William Press, who knows Filos from dropping off his kids at the Cutler Elementary School, was philosophical about the importance of tight communities.
He cited the author Bill McKibben, who has written dozens of books about the environment and conscientious living.
"McKibben said carbon has made us the first species to have no practical use for neighbors," Press said. "Our interactions are sort of random."
Vicky Provost was a co-organizer of the potluck picnic with pizzas, salads, hot dogs, fruit and drinks.
"It's a new way of doing it," Provost said. "When I was growing up, we used to have block parties."