Organizing a Neighborhood Association
Neighborhood organizing is an effective tool for mobilizing residents and developing leaders. Sustained organizing connects residents information networks of like-minded stakeholders, practical experience and opportunities to express their opinions.
In areas with active neighborhood associations, residents become neighbors and friends, and develop a sense of community and neighborhood pride. Once they feel a part of their community, residents are more likely to take pride in the appearance of their yard and home. Positive peer pressure also contributes to the residents taking better care of their property. In addition, neighborhood associations often have their own programs for encouraging property upkeep and appearance.
Developing the Association
Determine the needs of your neighborhood through meetings and discussions with neighbors during a walk-through. After you construct a list of possible needs, discuss them in reasonable depth to identify the issues. When you have identified the issues, discuss each one and agree on the priority of each issue. Sort the issues into short-term or long-term projects and begin to evaluate how your association would like to approach each issue.
In developing your neighborhood projects, focus on a specific issue that will demonstrate action and results and that will be visible in the neighborhood. Get the whole community behind the project by promoting the issue as much as possible. This will provide lots of participation for you to establish a large membership base. If you are successful in achieving your goals or effecting change on a single issue, it demonstrates that your association is an effective group. This establishes the creditablity and worthiness of your association, characteristics which are important to long-term survival. Unfortunately, one problem with concentrating on a single issue is that when that problem is solved, everyone leaves. Therefore, it is important to introduce other issues at the same time and get people to work on them in addition to the main issue. As each issue is resolved, focus on new, short-term and long-term projects.
Maintaining Interest in the Association
Some neighborhood associations organize as a reaction to undesirable developments in their area. But once the issue is resolved, the group may begin to lose its momentum. How do you keep people interested? This is a challenge many neighborhood associations face and will face throughout the life cycle of the association. Here are some pointers that may stimulate other ideas for maintaining interest of members.