- Talk To Your Neighbors
- Form a Core Group
- What Areas are Included?
- Planning Your 1st Meeting
- Holding Your 1st Meeting
- Developing Your Organization
Become Familiar With Your Neighborhood - Talk to Your Neighbors
First you need to reach out to neighbors to learn what their perceptions are about the neighborhood. This can be a difficult first step but you will quickly learn most people love the opportunity to talk about the concerns they see in the neighborhood. What issues exist? What resources exist? What do people like about their neighborhood? Conduct an assessment of the neighborhood to help determine what issues need attention by going door-to-door for this is also a great way of meeting new neighbors.
Talk to people about the problems occurring in the neighborhood. Listen to people to learn what assets, skills and resources they can bring to the table to help solve neighborhood issues. Talk to the people in churches, businesses, schools, parks, basketball courts, and anywhere else people may gather to understand what they think the neighborhood needs are.
Occasionally you may come across someone not interested in talking. If so, thank them anyway and move on to someone else who is eager to talk with you. Research what similar issues concern the businesses as well as the residents in your neighborhood? Looking at your neighborhood in terms of its needs and its resources helps to develop a list of things to be done and of those who can help.
Form a Small Organizing Committee
Form a small group of neighbors to discuss the neighborhood's needs and resources and to serve as an organizing committee. Decide on the most pressing, the most extensive and the most easily solved issues. Discuss the need for - and type of - organization needed to resolve these issues and if so, how to get other neighbors involved. Think of yourselves - not as the people who are going to run things - but as people who are going to invite all of your neighbors to get involved. Begin to plan for your neighborhood's first meeting by choosing a temporary chairperson. This doesn't have to be someone who wants to be the president of the organization once formed but someone who is willing to take the responsibility of getting your first meeting together.
The temporary chairperson will also be the contact person during the beginning stages of forming your organization until such time your officers are elected. If forming a Neighborhood Crime Watch group, email Molly Hunter, Roanoke Neighborhood Services Coordinator, for assistance.
You need to think about what the boundaries of your neighborhood are. What are the major streets, alleys, highways, waterways, and railways that define the boundaries of the neighborhood? This isn't as easy as it sounds since different people have different ideas of where their neighborhood ends and the next one begins. You also need to consider the size of the area your organization can represent effectively.
Find out what neighborhoods are already organized and what their boundaries are for it is important that the boundaries of your neighborhood do not overlap those of an existing neighborhood to avoid duplication of efforts. If you find that they do, this is a great opportunity to meet with that organization to see if you have enough in common to become members of the existing organization or perhaps negotiate a change in boundaries that meets the needs of both organizations.
- It is important that the first meeting be well organized and run smoothly for a successful first meeting is the beginning of a successful neighborhood organization.
- Have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish at your first meeting
- Pick a meeting place central to the neighborhood
- Set the meeting time and date where it is convenient for both young and old, working and non-working
- Work hard to inform neighbors about the meeting clearly stating the meeting's purpose
- Distribute flyers
- Mail notices
- Local newspapers
- Local institutions
- Small meetings
- Phone/email tree
- Social media
The first meeting is critical in forming of a group. All attendees should introduce themselves and sign a sheet with their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses so they can be contacted about future meetings and activities
Have a meeting agenda to let people know what is going to happen. Distribute before the meeting date if possible. Start on time and keep the meeting's length of time to no more than 1 hour.
Discuss why the need to organize and some common issues needing to be addressed, making certain everyone gets to talk, share ideas and provide input if they want to. Keep people on the subject and bring them back when they stray to avoid wasting time. Keep a public record for it gives weight to what's been said and what has been agreed to. End the meeting by summarizing the meeting and defining the next steps to be taken.
At the end, make assignments and set a time, date and place for the next meeting, while ending on time. Thank your participants for attending. Make certain your neighbors feel they spent their time well for if they leave with a feeling of accomplishment they will probably stay involved.
- Decide what the structure of your organization will be and create a set of bylaws (PDF) by which the organization will be governed.
- Elect officers and develop a work plan.
- Begin building relationships with existing organizations and city administration. Build alliances with the businesses, churches, nonprofits, and schools in the neighborhood. Invite them to join and be represented at the neighborhood group meetings.