Creating a Strong Neighborhood

 Looking for a strong sense of community where you live? At the end of the day, it could all start with you. 

Creating a Strong Neighborhood

If you long for the days when neighbors looked after each other, there are a few ways you can revive that sense of community in your neighborhood. From Neighborhood Watch programs to block parties, if you can put forth some effort you’ll see some rewards. You will want to make sure that you have a HOA election inspection done before moving in of course.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Whether you’re purchasing a home in a rural area or a thriving master-planned community, you can find ways to get to know your neighbors.

What is Neighborhood Watch?

Neighborhood Watch is an officially organized group of neighbors who share the responsibility of keeping tabs on the community. A successful Watch involves neighbors who know each other, understand how to identify suspicious behavior, and know how to report crimes properly. An established Neighborhood Watch area is designated as such with proper signage, including stickers in residents’ windows.

You don’t have to hold weekly meetings or put yourself in danger to stop a crime if you’re part of a Neighborhood Watch program. You will need to identify, with the help of your local police department, the types of crimes your area is most susceptible to, and how to prevent and spot them. Additionally, community members will be informed what to look for if they suspect a crime is occurring so they can give helpful descriptions to law enforcement when reporting the crime. It’s not necessary for members of the Neighborhood Watch to have concealed carry permits, but responsible use of firearms can be discussed with local law enforcement when establishing your group.

Tips for Starting a Neighborhood Watch Group

When it comes to strengthening your community with a Neighborhood Watch group, the more the merrier. In your initial meeting, exchange names, phone numbers, and establish who will be the Block Captain.

Block Captain

This is the neighbor who serves as a spokesperson for the group, staying in touch with local law enforcement and disseminating information as needed. The Block Captain will also arrange any meetings your Neighborhood Watch decides to have and keep a list of current members. With that list, the Block Captain can distribute assignments in the Watch. 

The National Neighborhood Watch recommends you have a meeting with law enforcement before officially getting started so you can work together in your neighborhood. Local police will know the crime statistics for your area so you can be prepared.

Determine what course of action you will take to address concerns outlined by your neighborhood and law enforcement. Also, discuss how you will communicate with one another and with law enforcement in the event of a crime. 

Within your Watch, there are a number of different roles and tasks to fulfill. With the help of the Block Captain, your neighborhood can assign the following responsibilities:

  • New member recruiter

  • Neighborhood patrol members

  • Fundraisers

  • Mapmakers

  • Vacation home patrol

Your Neighborhood Watch group should also know who has pets, who travels a lot for work, and who has children still living at home. This information can help prevent your Watch from wasting time reporting suspicious activity that is actually par for the course. For example, if a neighbor travels a lot and has a dog sitter coming by regularly, your Watch doesn’t want to mistake that person for a burglar and call the police unnecessarily. 

Things Neighborhood Watch is Looking For

The point of an organized Neighborhood Watch is not to spy on your neighbors. It’s becoming familiar with suspicious behavior such as the following and having a network in place to promptly report it.

  • Strangers entering someone’s property when they’re not home

  • Someone looking into windows or homes or vehicles, checking door knobs or handles

  • A person removing license plates from vehicles in the neighborhood

  • Someone repeatedly loitering in a neighborhood

  • Strange or alarming sounds, such as prolonged screaming, explosions, breaking glass, gunshots, etc...

Tips for Building Community

Maybe you’re not interested in joining a Neighborhood Watch. What else can you do to build community and a sense of belonging in your neighborhood? 

Be a Presence

It’s pretty easy these days to pull into the garage after work, shut the door, and disappear into the house without seeing your neighbors. If you want to get to know each other, make an effort to be more of a presence in your own yard. Instead of immediately parking in the garage, consider parking in the driveway for a few minutes when you get home. Use this time to check the mail and wave at neighbors, or take a seat on the porch to decompress and offer a smile. 

Get Your Hands Dirty

Another tip is to do some of your own yard work each week. It may be too time-consuming for you to take care of it all, but if you can spend some time at least pulling weeds or watering flowers, you’ll have a chance to make small talk with neighbors passing by. There’s something idyllic about neighbors being in their respective yards on a cool weekend morning mowing the lawn together! 

Take a Walk

Speaking of passers-by, be one yourself! If you can, pound the pavement in your own neighborhood. Take the kids or the dog for a walk and don’t be afraid to chat with those doing the same. Or, maybe you walk the neighborhood and clean up as you go. When neighbors see you volunteering your time to pick up trash, it can lead to some good conversation.

Social Apps

Sometimes a busy schedule prevents you from being a physical presence in your community. If that’s the case, you can see if there are social media platforms that host an online group for your neighbors. A private Facebook group for your neighborhood can allow you to converse with neighbors, fellow parents at your kids’ school, people who attend the same worship services. It’s a great way to keep everyone in the loop regarding community events, concerns, or just general well-being.

If you wait to be invited to things in your community, you may find yourself never getting involved. It’s important to be willing to take initiative, whether it’s sharing garden surplus with a neighbor, being the first to start a conversation, or offering a friendly wave.

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