In Buffalo, people talk to one another. Standing in line at Wegman’s, pouring gas at Delta Sonic, standing on a street corner waiting to cross – conversations start up between strangers. I have lived in five US cities and on three different continents. This is not universal. It may not be unique to Buffalo but, along with pushing each other out of snow banks and the plethora of benefits for neighbors in need, it’s one of the things that make Buffalo feel like it lives up to its moniker.

But is Buffalo really a City of Good Neighbors? James Quinn of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo wants to find out. Complete the confidential Social Capital Community Survey he has posted. It’s brief, it’s fun and it measures social capital, a key indicator of a community’s well-being. A Yale University study actually found evidence that “social capital in the form of community pride significantly reduces gun violence and street crime.”

Opportunities to be neighborly occur all the time. For example, Porchfest invites us to wander from house to house in Elmwood Village to hear more than 50 bands on Saturday, October 3, which is also Smile Day featuring free dental care for those in need, And on Tuesday, October 6, there are two more great ways to be a good neighbor: Dining Out for Life and Men Who Cook. Yes, both involve eating.

Dentistry from the Heart’s Dr. Bob is offering exams, X-rays, cleanings, fillings, and extractions at no charge for those who cannot afford dental procedures on Saturday, October 3 from 8:00am-1:00pm at Dr. Bob’s Dental Care, 892 Elmwood Avenue and at 956 Kenmore Avenue. Smile Day. What a lovely way to show you care.

Porchfest is a great opportunity to walk—a good, healthy activity in and of itself—around Elmwood Village on a Saturday afternoon and meet folks who have invited local up-and-coming musicians to make music on their porches. More than 50 have done so. The City of Good Neighbors indeed.

On Tuesday, participate in Dining Out for Life to fight HIV/AIDS and support Evergreen Health services to those living with the disease. More than 100 area restaurants have agreed to donate 25% or more of the cost of your meal to the fight against HIV/AIDS.  All you have to donate is your appetite.

But Dine out for lunch so that you have room for dinner at Men Who Cook. This delightful event at Statler City features food prepared by area wanna-be chefs with the help of some of our finest area restaurants, all to support Crisis Services and its critical 24-hour hotline services that help prevent suicide and domestic violence in our community.

We’ll publish the results of the Social Capital Community Survey as soon as the director of social capital initiatives for the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo makes them available. Anyone want to predict the outcome?