Five Ways To Strengthen Your Neighborhood
Here are five tips condensed from what I've learned from successful neighborhoods around the country.
- Make a neighborhood directory and/or map, with everyone's contact information and distribute it to everyone in the neighborhood.
- Host neighborhood-wide events at least monthly. Annual picnics are nice but generally don't provide traction; more frequent events e.g. "Wednesdays on the Porch" work better. Also, try holiday celebrations e.g. a Fourth of July bike parade for kids, maybe with a Town fire truck in the lead; a Labor Day back-to-school barbeque, Christmas Caroling, a progressive New Year's Eve celebration at five or six neighbors' homes (so no one has to drive after celebrating).
- Encourage residents to engage in some kind of front yard activityeven a flower gardento get people out and visible to passersby. Try to shift from typical back-yard activities to the front yard: vegetable and flower gardens, a swing set or climbing toy, badminton set, even just place a couple of lawn chairs in front of the house.
- Use online services to enhance communication: e.g.list-serves, iNeighbors.org, or MeetTheNeighbors.org.
- Try to create some shared propertyconvert an empty lot into a pocket park, convert a foreclosed house into a community-owned rental facility, or even just take down a fence here and there to create a joint vegetable garden. (I have actual examples of communities that do all of these.)