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Five Ways To Strengthen Your Neighborhood

Here are five tips condensed from what I've learned from successful neighborhoods around the country.

  1. Make a neighborhood directory and/or map, with everyone's contact information and distribute it to everyone in the neighborhood.

  2. 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).

  3. Encourage residents to engage in some kind of front yard activity—even a flower garden—to 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.

  4. Use online services to enhance communication: e.g.list-serves,, or

  5. Try to create some shared property—convert 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.)

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