So, what’s the deal with Neighborhood Organizations (sometimes called “Neighborhood Watches”)?  What are they, how can I find out if there is one in my neighborhood, and if not, why and how could I start one.

Generally neighborhood groups can create greater security and reduce the risk of someone becoming a victim of crime, improve the neighborhood, and build bonds between people.  But ultimately, the purpose of a neighborhood group depends on what the neighborhood wants and needs.  Many groups start because of a problem – crime, abandoned cars, dilapidated houses, street or alley disrepair, or traffic problems.  They begin to see results because when people work together they can get more accomplished and have a larger impact.  And as neighbors work together they also get to know each other.  They look out for each other.  And they feel safer, and they enjoy where they live more.

Over time, new challenges may rise up to replace original concerns. The organization should be flexible in order to best address area needs. Even if new challenges don’t crop up, neighborhood improvement projects can help remove physical conditions.  Some groups work on cleanups or beautification projects, or even community gardens.

Communication is critical.  It is important to schedule regular meetings to talk about issues and solving problems, to hear from the Police Department and other city officials, and to plan.  Groups can use email, create an open or closed Facebook pages or a NextDoor page (yes, we’ll do a blog about that later.)   Some groups are able to create newsletters, some use phone trees.  But don’t forget to talk to your neighbors!

And don’t forget the fun part!  Many groups put on neighborhood garage sales because who doesn’t want to get rid of their junk and make money?  Social and holiday activities are also great way to get together – picnics and block parties, Easter Egg Hunts, holiday parties, or a trunk-or-treat.  Be sure to have activities for families.

Be a part of the neighborhood movement.  There are many ways of participating, from being an organizer or a block captain to just being a “window watcher” and reporting suspicious activity. Alert neighbors can stop crime and keep residents safe—while making the neighborhood a more welcoming environment. And don’t forget to talk to your neighbors.  Share concerns openly and problem-solve together.

Whether it’s crime fighting, a neighborhood beautification project or winter emergency planning, the possibilities for a neighborhood group are endless.

Who cares more about a neighborhood than its residents?  And what are you going to do about problems?  Talk to your neighbors, get together as a neighborhood group, and work on solutions together.  Because as Richard Arrington, a former Atlanta Mayor, once said “you don’t have to move to live in a better neighborhood.”

Neighborhood Network can help you find or start a group. Contact Neighborhood Network at 779-348-7571,