Kindling Conversations with Modesto Neighbors

kindling conversationsYou want to love your neighbor as yourself, but it’s hard to get to know them in the space between when the garage door opens and closes. No one answers the door anymore, because the only ones knocking are trying to sell you on something. What do you do? Hang out on the front lawn, or take your dog for a walk in the park, and start talking to random stran…neighbors. Here are a few questions you can ask, depending on the circumstances. Base your follow-up questions on whatever answers you get back. Be mindful for your neighbor’s signals that they’re overloaded and need to go home and recharge.

The Questions

What do you love most about your dog? Did you rescue it from the pound or adopt it?

Doing anything new this weekend? Have you walked the Virginia Corridor Trailway?

Are you going to see the upcoming superhero movie? What would be your super power if you had one?

How long have you lived in the neighborhood? What do you like about it?

Were you born here? How is it different from other places you’ve lived?

What’s the furthest from home you’ve traveled? What did you miss about home?

What do you like to brag about your kids? (Don’t forget to tell your kids how you would answer.)

What do you appreciate most about your kid(s)’ school(s)?

What was your favorite subject (or major, or teacher) in school? What did you love most about going to school?

Do you work in or commute from Modesto? What do you love about your job, besides (or perhaps despite) the paycheck?

What’s the longest amount of time you’ve worked at a particular job? What are some of the good things that kept you there?

What’s your favorite job? What career do you wish you had pursued?

What’s your new week’s resolution? How was your weekend?

How many cups of coffee does it take before you’re fully conscious? Home brew, drive-thru, or office brew?

Do you still watch cartoons? What are your favorite characters and why do you like them?

Do you still have cable/satellite or just go with Netflix, Redbox, Amazon, et cetera?

What sort of home improvements have you been working on lately?

What is a funny family story that comes up most of the times there’s a family get-together?

What is the last thing you did when you got together with family?

What do you enjoy about the holidays? What are some of your best holiday memories? What’s your favorite part of a holiday dinner?

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas or your birthday?

If you treated your visiting friend to a tour of Modesto, what top locations would you hit, and what would you say about each place?

What’s your weirdest memory in Modesto?

Are you doing anything important, like volunteering? Do you have an achievable plan you look forward to completing? Who is helping you get past hurdles?

You’re writing a script about your life. Drama, comedy, romantic comedy, action adventure, science fiction? Who’s in it?

What good habits, hobbies, or quirks set you apart from everyone else around you?

If you could defy all limitations, what sort of life would you be living? What is stopping you? Is it really that impossible to overcome?

Think of a time when you have felt the most at peace, complete, and satisfied in life. What has to change to return to that?

What are a few of your favorite things?

What music puts you in the best mood? Do you have a favorite group/solo artist, radio station, album? Have you checked out the local music scene?

What is your theme song when you’re at your worst? What is your theme song when you’re at your best? What is Modesto’s theme song when we’re at our best?

What is your favorite comfort food? Do you have a go-to restaurant? Have you reviewed it on Facebook or other websites?

Who is someone who changed your life for the better? How did they do it? Have you paid it forward?

What do you love most about your favorite people?

What do you hope people say about you when you’re not there? What do you think they actually say, if anything?

Do your friends know what they really mean to you? Is that what you say about them when they’re not there?

What do YOU resolve to do (the rest of) this year?

What are some of your favorite Modesto views? :) – Star Valdez

What’s your solution to Facebook complaining? – Mike Greenlee

Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity? – Ho Pham

If you were an element on the periodic table, which would you be and why? – Anna Winger Pham


I would love to hear if you use any of these questions to kindle conversations with neighbors. Some of them are no-brainer small-talk, while others are not the kind you would just lead out with, but take some excellent delivery skills to work them into conversation. Some of them get pretty deep and personal and should maybe be saved for a second or third (or fourth) conversation. Tell it in the comments below! :)

Related: Breaking the Silence in the Neighborhood

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