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CM Call on Sustaining Neighborhoods this Thurs.

Our organizational partners at CommunityMatters are hosting another one of their great capacity building calls this Thursday, April 10th, from 4-5pm EST. NCDD is a partner in the CommunityMatters collaboration, and we encourage you to hop on the call and learn with us.

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This month, the call is focused on Building and Sustaining Vital Neighborhoods. This month’s call will feature insights about neighborhood building from Felisa Conner, manager Garland, Texas’ Office of Neighborhood Vitality and Scott LeMay, Councilman in Garland, Texas and Former President of the Camelot Neighborhood Association. CM describes the call this way:

Think about a neighborhood you just love. What is it that makes it feel so welcoming, so inspired, or so vibrant? The best neighborhoods make greatness seem effortless, but what you don’t see is that behind the scenes, a lot of hard work and dedication is going into sustaining a strong place.

What does it take for your neighborhood to achieve greatness, for residents to act neighborly and work together to achieve shared goals?

On the next CommunityMatters® conference call, Felisa Conner of the Office of Neighborhood Vitality in Garland, Texas will join us to talk about building and sustaining vital neighborhoods. We’ll also hear from Councilman Scott LeMay of Garland, a graduate of the city’s Neighborhood Management Academy and former President of the Camelot Neighborhood Association. Felisa and Councilman LeMay will share tools and strategies for neighborhood management – ways to foster collaboration and build capacity to develop and realize neighborhood vision and goals.

If you are you ready to learn about strengthening your neighborhood, then make sure to register today for the conference call. We hope to hear you then!

As always, CM created an insightful blog piece to prime our thinking before the call. You can read it below or find the original post here.


Don Your Cardigan, It’s Time for Us All to Be a Little More Like Mr. Rogers

by Caitlyn Horose

Let’s be honest. Most day-to-day relations with our neighbors don’t reflect a Mr. Rogers mindset. Haven’t we all at least thought about writing a note like this or this once in our lives?

Even if you’re intentional about your interactions – maybe you bake cookies for newcomers on the block, or introduce yourself to unfamiliar faces at the neighborhood park – do you really believe that the future of your ‘hood really depends on your commitment?

The best neighborhoods make greatness seem effortless, but what you don’t see is that behind the scenes, a lot of hard work and dedication is going into sustaining a strong place. Great neighborhoods happen on purpose – people take stock in the idea of shared responsibility, the notion that everyone plays a part in upholding the health of a neighborhood.

So, what does a vital neighborhood look like? The Healthy Neighborhoods program identifies four characteristics of healthy neighborhoods: a positive image, confident real estate market, well-maintained physical infrastructure and strong neighborhood management.

On the next CommunityMatters® conference call, Felisa Conner of the Office of Neighborhood Vitality in Garland, Texas will share her 13 years of experience in building and sustaining vital neighborhoods with a three-pronged approach: build relationships, increase collaboration and develop leadership. In 2003, Felisa initiated an annual citywide neighborhood summit to help local residents understand how to use organizing tactics to boost trust, accountability and the willingness to act for the benefit of all neighbors. A few years later, she established Garland’s Neighborhood Management Academy to inform and empower residents about local decision-making processes and how they can get involved to manage neighborhood growth and change. The academy now includes a track for faith-based and non-profit organizations to encourage partnerships.

Councilman Scott LeMay, a graduate of Garland’s Academy, is a prime example of its success. After participating in Garland’s program and serving as President of the Camelot Neighborhood Association, Councilman Lemay was inspired to run for office. As a City Councilor, he seeks to increase public awareness of and participation in city government and foster future leaders in Garland. Councilman LeMay will join Felisa and CommunityMatters on April 10th from 4-5pm to share his perspective on the importance of building vital neighborhoods.

Other communities across the country are joining Garland in the quest to help all neighborhoods succeed. They are focusing on strategies to foster neighborly relations, establish neighborhood partnerships, and increase neighborhood leadership capacity.

A key piece of neighborhood management is helping neighbors feel comfortable being neighborly – they look out for one another, work together and reinforce neighborhood values. There are many simple, yet powerful ways to catalyze neighborly interaction and relationship building.

NeighborCircles are a lightweight way for neighbors to come together to meet each other and start talking over dinner. In Lawrence, Massachusetts, NeighborCircles have helped bring neighbors together in a safe and comfortable environment. After an initial series of three dinners, some circles take the next step and identify an action for making change in the community, while other circles continue to host dinners. In either case, the result is a strengthened social network. As one participant reflected, “The more of us who come together, the more power we have.”

GOOD’s Neighborday resources might be a year old, but their toolkit is timeless, offering inspiration for knocking on doors and asking, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” In fact, more than 2,000 people organized Neighborday events in 32 countries last year, just because they wanted to spend some time getting to know their neighbors. Watch this video for a quick recap of the awesomeness:

The second core component of neighborhood management is developing the critical partnerships to bring residents, city staff and nonprofits together to work on shared goals.

The Milwaukee Leadership Institute brings residents and non-profit representatives together as project partners. Two-person teams tackle the first steps of larger processes – they initiate resident engagement strategies, lay the foundation for neighborhood organizations and identify opportunities for local communication. In 2013, its pilot year, the program saw tangible results – increased confidence among residents, stronger relationships, and shared power in decision-making. Plans are to continue the program with a train-the-trainer model, where participants will bring Institute practices back to their neighborhood to ensure future neighborhood decisions employ a similar collaborative approach.  Listen to this podcast on the Institute’s first year from Grassroots Gratmakers.

Neighborland is an online platform for initiating collaborative projects at the neighborhood level. Online participants can generate ideas to tackle neighborhood problems and gather support to bring an idea to fruition. Using Neighborland, the N-Judah Turnaround Beautification Project engaged residents around ideas for improvements of a local park. See what the locals have to say about this initiative by watching the project video:

Leadership development is the third core piece of neighborhood management. To ensure residents have the capacity to manage the day-to-day activities on their blocks, communities like Raleigh, North CarolinaCleveland, Ohio, and Tampa, Florida have established neighborhood leadership programs. These programs introduce residents to how city government works.

Whether you’re looking to get active in your neighborhood association, a non-profit leader who wants to work at the grassroots level, or a government employee interested in building similar capacity in your town, you won’t want to miss the next CommunityMatters event. Join our free conference call on Thursday, April 10 from 4-5pm Eastern to be inspired by Felisa Conner and Councilman Scott LeMay of Garland, Texas. They’ll share their experience in creating supportive programs for vital neighborhoods.

Register for the call now.

The original version of this piece can be found at www.communitymatters.org/blog/dawn-your-cardigan-it%E2%80%99s-time-us-all-be-little-more-mr-rogers.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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