Shannan Martin on Friendship: “It Starts with Hello”

Episode 04

When was the last time you reached out to one of your neighbors? Not just the people you feel comfortable with, but the ones who live near that you might not know beyond a “How are you?” in passing. As we continue our Community and Friendship series, we’re taking a look at why it enriches our lives (and the lives of our neighbors) to invest in the people around us. It doesn’t have to mean they all become our best friends, but a little curiosity, a little paying attention, and a little effort to listen will go a long way in developing the kinds of relationships that make life sweeter. To help guide this conversation, we’re delighted to welcome author and speaker Shannan Martin back to the show!  Through her writing, Shannan has revolutionized the way we think about relationships with her refreshing perspectives. She articulates the need for genuine, deep-seated friendships that stretch beyond conventional norms. She also unravels the complexities of forging meaningful connections in our modern world, and her last book “Start with Hello” beckons us toward extending hospitality in ways that might feel awkward at first, but will net us that sense of community and belonging we all long for. 

Shannan and Jen discuss: 

  • How Shannan, a self proclaimed introvert, faced her loneliness after she and her family moved from the country to the city by getting outside her comfort zone and making herself available to meet her neighbors
  • What it means to be deeply embedded in a neighborhood where you are both a good neighbor, and your neighbors are good neighbors to you
  • How making new friends, no matter how big or small, always starts with a simple “hello”  and the small steps towards getting to know someone by making eye contact, paying attention and helping when we can

Shannan and Jen agree that when we reach out beyond our fears, beyond our comfort level, and beyond our borders with radical hospitality, good things start to happen in our neighborhoods which then trickle out to our communities and begin to affect society as a whole. And, be sure to stay with us ‘til the very end–you won’t want to miss a little bonus chat among friends about whether ice cream is healthy for you or not, and what flavors Jen and Shannan swear by.

Episode Transcript

Hey, everybody. Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show. I’m so glad that you are here today. We’re in a series called For the Love of Community and Friendships. As a podcast team, we’re constantly paying attention to you, our listeners, and what you are saying and what you’re asking for. Every time you send us an idea or a request, or “This is something I’d love to hear on the show,” we are paying attention. We just have this consistent through-line of our listening community saying, “Community and friendship as an adult is still something of a pain point. I feel like we need instruction around this,” that “I thought it would be this way, but it’s this way. I don’t know how to manage this as a grownup.” There’s just a lot around this idea, and so we knew we wanted to do an entire series on it. I can’t think of a better guest than the one I have today in this space because I think sometimes when we’re hungry for connection and friendship, we keep thinking it’s a really complex, hard-to-find place to go get it. Where do you have to go? Where do you have to join? But the truth is, we literally are embedded in neighborhoods. We live by people–we have neighbors. We are already in a community just by virtue of where we live and I know as a community, we run the gamut here. Some of us are deeply connected in our neighborhood and some are not at all.

When was the last time you reached out to one of your neighbors? I know that we certainly have people that we feel comfortable with, but do we know the people we live by? Beyond, “Hey, how are you?” Or do we know about our neighbor’s families? Do we know about their lives? Do we know their children? Do we know their struggles and their victories? I think right now, our country is really wobbly around this right now. This sense of community in our neighborhood. We are absolutely being taught to fear each other right now, that we are constantly in danger. That people mean us harm, that our neighbors are to be distrusted. It’s just the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, where somehow this constant rhetoric is turning us against our own neighbors.

It’s bananas and I’m interested in reversing this trend; this slow sense of place and community and connection. Having people around our tables, having our neighbors on our porches, being around theirs, and, being deeply invested in one another, living our lives, just our ordinary, plain daily lives with the people around us. Our guest today is just a precious friend of mine, really for so long now, and one of my favorite people–that is no hyperbole. She’s particularly gifted in the space of community and being neighborly. You may remember, if you’re a longtime listener, from our For the Love of Books series, which kind of feels like a lifetime ago at this point. She’s back today. I’ve got Shannan Martin with us. You guys get excited!

She is just special. She’s a special person in the world. I don’t know how else to say it. She is a writer. She’s a speaker, who says she “Found her voice in the country and found her story in the city.” We’re gonna unpack that. She works as a cook at The Window, which is this local nonprofit in her community dedicated to feeding anybody who needs to be fed in Goshen, Indiana, where she lives. She’s just a wonderful, special, and unique person. After you listen to this conversation, you will want to live next to her, which is a sentiment echoed in the forward that I wrote for her first book, which is called Falling Free. Her second book was called The Ministry of Ordinary Places, which is what we talked about the last time she was on the show. 

Her latest book is called Start With Hello and it’s just lovely and it brims with possibility. Our other friend of the show, Osheta Moore, said this about it. She said, “It’s a call to action toward radical, realistic hospitality.” And that’s true. Not in some big performative, complicated, fussy, fancy way. In fact, it’s the opposite of every word I said. I want you to enjoy this conversation of what it means to be deeply embedded in a neighborhood where you are both a good neighbor and your neighbors are good neighbors to you, and you are truly living in this connected, beautiful way. It’s lovely. It’s hopeful. You’ll see why she’s my absolute favorite. So, without any further ado, please enjoy this beautiful conversation with my friend who I love, Shannan Martin.




For the Love of Books Series

The Window (a nonprofit organization out of Goshen, IN)

Shannan’s Books

For the Love Episode ft. Osheta Moore

An article on the health benefits of Ice Cream by The Atlantic

Toad the Wet Sprocket Tour

Crack the Case by Dawes

CONNECT WITH Shannan Martin
  • Visit to save 10% on your first month!
  • Visit and use code READ at checkout $5 off your purchase!
  • focl Visit and use code FORTHELOVE at checkout for 20% off of your purchase
Shop Jen's Faves

From exclusive, limited-edition items to my must-haves, check out all my latest faves.


Take a peek around

If you’re not sure where to begin, I got you, friend. I’m always bringing you something new to enjoy.

Read More About Jen