AT on: Little Things that Make a Difference

[Thanks for the tons of emails I got back in response to this email. I'm going to post them all tomorrow]

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The main ring road at Talamore, with lots of cul de sacs off of both sides.

Over the weekend we volunteered to get out the vote in Pennsylvania. Sara Kate, Ursula and I drove two hours to Montgomery County, PA and then walked for five hours, knocking on front doors of 46 homes, speaking with many, many people about the upcoming election. Politics aside, talking to people and seeing their homes in what was a suburban community centered on a golf course, was fascinating and sort of weird for us city dwellers. These were pretty big houses with silent, perfectly clipped lawns, and every facade reflected one of five options...

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Talamore @ Oak Terrace Country Club in Montgomery County, PA

(The political takeaway: the community is pretty evenly split, and there are a lot more undecided voters here than the last election. Everyone is worried about the economy first and foremost).

But, in all the homes we visited, there was a clear connection between the friendliness of people and the general upkeep of their home. Not only were those working on their homes more often outside and more interactive with their neighbors, but, whether they were Republican or Democrat, those folks who had added some personal touches to the front of their home, were working in their yard or had cooking smells wafting out the front door were easy and friendly to meet, even when we found ourselves on either side of the political fence.

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Watch out for golf carts!

Home is a physical place, but its also a state of mind, which grows richer and more gratifying as you use, tend and improve upon it. Doing so makes us more human and, ultimately, better citizens.

And it doesn't take big changes to make a difference. Particularly in a tough economic time, when the big things get cut, it's the little things that make the biggest difference.

So, for Monday, I put together this little list of the little things that make a difference to me and linked to some other good ones that have gathered many comments. I invite you to send in your own.

• Buying fresh flowers each week
• Cooking at home (instead of takeout or going out)
• Cleaning the windows
• Sorting your mail right away when you come home (recycle the junk mail!)
• Oiling your butcher blocks (so they don't split)
• Inviting friends over for dinner more often (rather than going out)

What are your little things? (email me: maxwell@apartmenttherapy.com)

>> What's the First Thing You Cut Back On? Survey from Laure (61 comments)

>> 20 Little Things to Treasure in Autumn by Lise (16 comments)

>> Just the Little Things... One project that made a difference by Grace
(12 comments)

>> Green@Home: Simple Small Steps from Janel in Chicago
(13 comments)

>> The Little Things That Make a Difference (36 comments - from Nov. 2004)

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.