"Some sociologists and community organizers say they think there has been an uptick of "neighboring" in the recession, as residents are reaching out, in person and through e-mail discussion groups. They're talking crime and the economy, helping others through job losses and organizing money-saving potlucks.
Although the evidence is still largely anecdotal - U.S. Census and other data won't be available until later this year - some scholars say the numbers of those involved in community activities could increase for the first time in years, after a long downward spiral that began in the 1970s because of longer commutes and time pressure on two-income families.
Historically, economic hard times can be tough on civic engagement, as when involvement dropped during the Great Depression. But experts say that doesn't take into account new social technologies, a burst of political involvement among youths, and a president who has inspired many."