I remember back in the day when everyone in the neighborhood knew each other. We knew their names, their interest and we actually had conversations on a regular basis. In my neighborhood, when someone got sick, we all turned out and took care of their lawns, made sure the family had food and looked after their livestock and pets. They would do the same for us if needed. It was just what we did.
In my neighborhood, we noticed when things were not right, especially when someone or something suspicious showed up. We were polite but direct in asking if we could help them find their way. We knew when to call the police. Our neighborhood was a safe place to live. We enjoyed being a neighborhood family. We made it that way.
Now, in our "hurry up" world, we have let technology and busy schedules rule our lives. We seldom make time to speak with our own family members face to face, let alone our neighbors. Just ask yourself this, when was the last time you had a face-to-face conversation with one of your neighbors? Do you know the names of everyone on your block? "But I use Facebook," you say! Consider Facebook as a tool to supplement your contacts and not as a replacement.
One of the foundations of a safe and vibrant community can be as simple as networking with others in our neighborhood. Knowing the issues and concerns affecting your block is essential in finding a solution.
Each year, across the nation, communities celebrate the benefits of neighborhood partnerships with an event called National Night Out against Crime. Although the event highlights crime prevention through the efforts of neighborhood partnerships, National Night Out is so much more. It is about getting out and spending a few hours reconnecting with your neighborhood family. It is about building your community.
National Night Out is recognized each year on the first Tuesday of August. This year it's on Tuesday, Aug. 7th. It is a time to put down the TV remote, put your cell phone in your pocket and get out to meet your new neighbors. The time spent together is not only priceless, it also builds the foundation of a safer community.
When we are a "part" of something, we are stronger. By way of example, take a popsicle stick in your hands and break it. Now grab a handful of popsicle sticks and try it again. Get my point? Together we are strong. The benefit of having a strong community as this example highlights can be enormous. Criminals avoid locations that have a plan. Do you have a plan?
If you are interested in participation in National Night Out 2012, it is as simple as hosting a social gathering in your neighborhood on the evening of Aug. 7. Past successful gatherings have been BBQs, ice cream socials, desert potlucks or whatever you feel is a good fit for your block. If you plan early enough and register your event with the police department, a guest from the Bellingham Police, Office of Emergency Management, Whatcom 911 Dispatch Center or the Whatcom Humane Society will drop by to answer questions about their particular area of expertise. Most events are scheduled between 5-8 p.m.
To schedule your event just email me at email@example.com with your plan.
National Night Oout against Crime is a program that is designed to get back to the basics of friendly interaction with your neighborhood partners. I believe this low-tech program is one of the best and easiest ways to get connected, stay connected and move towards building the foundation of a stronger and safe community.
Mark E. Young is public information officer for the Bellingham Police Department. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.