Building a Sense of Community – by Charlene Miller
When we think of Neighborhood Watch, we think of reducing and preventing crime, knowing our neighbors, taking security measures for our property, and reporting suspicious and criminal activity to law enforcement. That is the beginning and the foundation of this program.
However, once the foundation is in place, we move on to a very important component of the Watch program: Building a Sense of Community in our neighborhoods. “Sense of Community” may be defined as a feeling members have of belonging; that members matter to one another and the group, and that they are part of a larger stable structure.
A neighborhood has this when neighbors don’t want to move because they like their neighbors; they periodically get together for a Neighborhood Watch group presentation and block parties; they build a history together that draws them close.
How To Build a Sense of Community
It starts with you. Take a walk around your neighborhood with your dog/spouse/roommate, waving at neighbors, picking up trash, and being watchful for those suspicious and criminal activities you may need to report to police.
Take time to visit with neighbors, and catch up on their lives. Invite a few neighbors over for dessert or to watch a football game, or a BBQ potluck.
Start a collection for your local food bank or rescue mission, that the whole neighborhood can participate in, such as collecting blankets, coats, or canned foods.
Be on a neighborhood committee to give awards to neighborhood adults and kids who do something special.
Consider neighbors in need and help out with bringing them a meal, mowing their lawn, or another practical way to meet the need.
Watch out for each other and be willing to watch over each others homes when they’re on vacation.
Sit out front on nice days in your patio chair with a cold drink, and visit with neighbors.
Plant flowers or add creative touches to your front yard. We are attracted to beauty and creativity, and it encourages conversation.
Have fun in your neighborhood. Consider planning “garden tours”, Easter egg hunts, or other ideas to celebrate your community.