Out of the Box Prize

in community engagement, Ideas, Place-based communities, Resident Associations

 

The Community Tool Box is hosting an inaugural global prize contest for community innovations. The 2010 “Out of the Box” prize will recognize and honor promising initiatives from around the world that improve community development and community health. 

The Grand Prize will be $5,000 in cash, plus a free customized Workstation (interactive website that supports collaboration).  A second prize will be $2,000 in cash and a free WorkStation. 

We invite you to enter the innovations contest, and encourage you to share contest information with others doing innovative work to improve life in their communities. 

Your group’s innovation may involve activities to improve community health, education, urban or rural development, poverty, the environment, social justice, or other related issues of importance to communities. 

To learn more and to download an application form, please visit http://ctb.ku.edu/en/out_of_the_box.aspx. Or, for Spanish, visit http://ctb.ku.edu/es/out_of_the_box_es.aspx

The opening date for applications is August 1, with a closing date of October 31. An international panel of judges will select Finalists. Award Finalists and their innovative projects will be posted on the home page of the Community Tool Box. Public voting will then help determine the two top “Out of the Box” prize winners; voting will close on January 31, 2011. 

Many of you are already familiar with the Community Tool Box, which has been creating and disseminating practical guidance about community health and development online since 1995. For those of you who have not viewed our site recently, we invite you to visit us at http://ctb.ku.edu, where you will find over 300 how-to-do-it instructional modules and many tools for bringing about community change and improvement. 

If you have any questions concerning the Out of the Box Prize, please direct them to Christina Holt at cholt@ku.edu

Ideas for Block Activities – from Jim Diers, Steven Clift and e-democracy.org

in community engagement, Ideas, Place-based communities, Resident Associations

Steve Clift

Thanks to Ashoka Fellow and e-democracy founder Steven Clift for sending me this list, which was drafted at his request by Our Blocks friend Jim Diers, the author of Neighbor Power and former head of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods. You can add to the list by going to the Block activities wiki on e-democracy.org.

In many communities there are intentional efforts to organize “block clubs” among neighbors. They are often promoted by police departments because neighbors who know each other, watch out for each other. In some communities, neighborhood councils play this role. Because organizers typically have a goal in mind, like “crime prevention,” the support materials and systems do not document in detail the wide range of activities block clubs/neighbors can organize among themselves.

Suggestions for Block Activities

Jim Diers

  • Crime prevention
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Block parties
  • Skills exchanges
  • Share tools, pickup truck, camping equipment, etc.
  • Buy in bulk
  • Policy discussions
  • Support for latchkey kids
  • Support for housebound seniors
  • Support for one another
  • Rideshares
  • Create community garden on vacant lot or someone’s yard
  • Create pocket park on vacant lot or someone’s yard
  • Install benches, picnic tables or other community furniture in front yards
  • Improve/maintain common spaces: alley, median, park traffic circle, etc.
  • Paint mural in intersection
  • Plant street trees
  • Provide base for neighborhood association
  • Slow traffic with signs/art
  • Create placards for doorway of each home representing that family
  • Create website for block
  • Create a manifesto of block values and commitments to one another
  • Create a directory of available expertise (recycling, technology, etc)
  • Create a green block in which each household commits to reducing carbon footprint
  • Conduct a talent show
  • Celebrate Good Neighbor Day by recognizing good deeds

These suggestions were subsequently added to the wiki:

(more…)

Superbia! : 31 ways to create sustainable neighborhoods (with links to resources)

in community engagement, Ideas, Place-based communities, Resident Associations

[ The resources linked below are those referenced in the book, p179ff ]

Easy Steps

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Bolder Steps

[more links to follow]

Boldest Steps

  • Create a community energy system.
  • Establish alternative water and wastewater systems.
  • Establish a more environmentally friendly transportation strategy.
  • Create a common house.
  • Create a community-shared office.
  • Establish weekly entertainment for the community.
  • Narrow or eliminate streets, converting more space to park and edible landscape, walkways and picnic areas.
  • Retrofit garages and rooms in your homes into apartments or add granny flats to house students or others in need of housing.
  • Establish a mixed-use neighborhood by opening a coffee shop, convenience store, and garden market.
  • Promote a more diverse neighborhood.

From Dan Chiras & Dave Wann (2003). Superbia!: 31 ways to create sustainable neighborhoods. Gabriola, B.C.: New Society.

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50 ways to serve in your neighborhood

in community engagement, Ideas, Place-based communities, Resident Associations

[ Extracted from the "Neighborhood Enhancement" section of 366 Community Service Ideas. Compiled by Janet Fox, 4-H Extension Specialist. Value-added: we linked to resources that might help you apply these ideas. If you have more (or better) links, please reply below. ]


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Project Ideas for Make a Difference Day

in community engagement, Ideas, Place-based communities, Resident Associations

These projects by past Make A Difference Day honorees can inspire your brainstorm sessions for ideas on how your group can use its special services to make a difference. Also on this site: planning guides and other resources to help you turn your ideas into good deeds.

TEEN GROUP LENDS A HAND: 75 volunteers from the Palm Springs, Calif., Yucaipa Teen Center held a food drive, did home repairs for elderly and disabled citizens, and cleaned up parks and roadways.

LOCAL YMCA LEADS THE WAY: Galesburg, Ill., Led by the Warren County YMCA, 400 children and adults from Monmouth and surrounding areas renovated a refuge shelter for homeless and abused women and kids; donated food for the needy; picked up litter; painted and insulated a house for Habitat for Humanity; and entertained nursing home residents.

STATE WOMEN’S CLUBS MOBILIZE: Nearly 1,100 members in 58 chapters of the Illinois Federation of Women’s Clubs pitched in restocking homeless shelters, organizing community cleanups, visiting nursing homes. “All of the clubs are active in their communities,” says president Phyllis Cossarek. “But Make A Difference Day is a wonderful way for the clubs to do even more.”

MONEY FOR GLASSES, SCHOLARSHIPS: The Ellington (Mo.) Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce held a fall festival, parade and auction that raised more than $3,000 for, among other things, local scholarship funds and a children’s eyeglasses bank.

NEWCOMERS WELCOMED WITH EVENT: In Lenoir City (Tenn.) HOPE, an adult volunteer organization, held a Make A Difference Day Readin’ and Rummagin’ Day to benefit recent Mexican immigrants. Participants were given play money to purchase items donated by a church and were read to in both Spanish and English.

REUNITE A COMMON INTEREST: Former residents of the Homeless Prevention Center in Woodbridge, Va., operated by Volunteers of America, returned on Make A Difference Day to paint, lay a walkway and sort donated clothes.

HELP YOUR OLD SCHOOL: Alumni of St. Angela’s grade school in Chicago, Ill., restored luster to their 80-year-old alma mater, located in a neighborhood plagued by poverty and crime, by coming together on Make A Difference Day to paint classrooms, install proper lighting in the halls and a new sidewalk, repair broken doors, as well as donate $900. (more…)

77 ways to build community in your neighborhood

in community engagement, Ideas, Place-based communities, Resident Associations

Extracted from 150 Things You Can Do to Build Social Capital, The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement In America, an initiative of Professor Robert D. Putnam at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The project focuses on expanding what we know about our levels of trust and community engagement and on developing strategies and efforts to increase this engagement.

1. Organize a social gathering to welcome a new neighbor

2. Attend town meetings

5. Volunteer your special skills to an organization

7. Start a front-yard/community garden

9. Surprise a new neighbor by making a favorite dinner–and include the recipe

14. Organize or participate in a sports league

15. Join a gardening club

16. Attend home parties when invited

22. Start a monthly tea group

23. Speak at or host a monthly brown bag lunch series at your local library

24. Sing in a choir

25. Get to know the clerks and salespeople at your local stores

26. Attend PTA meetings

27. Audition for community theater or volunteer to usher

28. Give your park a weatherproof chess/checkers board

29. Play cards with friends or neighbors

30. Give to your local food bank

31. Walk or bike to support a cause and meet others

34. Join or start a babysitting cooperative

39. Form a local outdoor activity group

42. Form a computer group for local senior citizens

43. Help coach Little League or other youth sports – even if you don’t have a kid playing

44. Help run the snack bar at the Little League field

45. Form a tool lending library with neighbors and share ladders, snow blowers, etc.

46. Start a lunch gathering or a discussion group

47. Offer to rake a neighbor’s yard or shovel his/her walk

48. Start or join a carpool

51. Eat breakfast at a local gathering spot on Saturdays

55. Host a block party or a holiday open house

56. Start a fix-it group–friends willing to help each other clean, paint, garden, etc.

57. Offer to serve on a town committee

58. Join the volunteer fire department

60. If you grow tomatoes, plant extra for an lonely elder neighbor – better yet, ask him/her to teach you and others how to can the extras

63. Persuade a local restaurant to have a designated “meet people” table

64. Host a potluck supper before your Town Meeting

66. Say “thanks” to public servants – police, firefighters, town clerk…

69. Gather a group to clean up a local park or cemetery

72. Hold a neighborhood barbecue

74. Plant tree seedlings along your street with neighbors and rotate care for them

75. Volunteer at the library

76. Form or join a bowling team

79. Ask neighbors for help and reciprocate

80. Go to a local folk or crafts festival

86. Log off and go to the park

87. Ask a new person to join a group for a dinner or an evening

88. Host a pot luck meal or participate in them

89. Volunteer to drive someone

91. Host a movie night

92. Exercise together or take walks with friends or family

93. Assist with or create your town or neighborhood’s newsletter

94. Organize a neighborhood pick-up – with lawn games afterwards

95. Collect oral histories from older town residents

96. Join a book club discussion or get the group to discuss local issues

97. Volunteer to deliver Meals-on-Wheels in your neighborhood

98. Start a children’s story hour at your local library

105. Take in the programs at your local library

106. Read the local news faithfully

107. Buy a grill and invite others over for a meal

110. Attend a public meeting

112. Help scrape ice off a neighbor’s car, put chains on the tires or shovel it out

113. Hire young people for odd jobs

118. Sit on your stoop

120. Make gifts of time

122. Volunteer at your local neighborhood school

123. Offer to help out at your local recycling center

124. Send a “thank you” letter to the Editor about a person or event that helped build community

125. Raise funds for a new town clock or new town library

129. Invite friends or colleagues to help with a home renovation or home building project

130. Join or start a local mall-walking group and have coffee together afterwards

131. Build a neighborhood playground

132. Become a story-reader or baby-rocker at a local childcare center or neighborhood pre-school

134. Help kids on your street construct a lemonade stand

138. Offer to watch your neighbor’s home or apartment while they are away

139. Organize a fitness/health group with your friends or co-workers

140. Hang out at the town dump and chat with your neighbors as you sort your trash at the Recycling Center

142. See if your neighbor needs anything when you run to the store

144. Join groups (e.g., arts, sports, religion) likely to lead to making new friends of different race or ethnicity, different social class or bridging across other dimensions

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Superbia! : 31 ways to create sustainable neighborhoods

in community engagement, Ideas, Place-based communities, Resident Associations

click here for an updated version of this post: we added links to resources cited in the book

Easy Steps

  • Sponsor community dinners.
  • Establish a community newsletter, bulletin board, and community roster.
  • Establish a neighborhood watch program.
  • Start neighborhood investment clubs, community sports activities and restoration projects.
  • Form weekly discussion groups.
  • Establish neighborhood baby-sitting coop.
  • Form an organic food co-op.
  • Create car or van pools for commuting to and from work.
  • Create a neighborhood work-share program.
  • Create a mission statement.
  • Create an asset inventory.

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Bolder Steps

  • Tear down fences: opening back yards to create communal play space and a space for neighbors to mingle and a community garden.
  • Plant a community garden and orchard.
  • Establish a neighborhood composting and recycling facility.
  • Plant shade trees and windbreaks to create a more favorable microclimate.
  • Replace asphalt and concrete with porous pavers and greenery.
  • Establish a more edible landscape—incrementally remove grass in front lawns and replace with vegetables and fruit trees.
  • Start a community-supported agriculture program in which neighbors “subscribe” to local organic farm’s produce.
  • Create a car-share program–purchasing a van or truck for rent to community members.
  • Begin community-wide retrofitting of homes and yards for energy and water efficiency.
  • Solarize your homes.

Boldest Steps

  • Create a community energy system.
  • Establish alternative water and wastewater systems.
  • Establish a more environmentally friendly transportation strategy.
  • Create a common house.
  • Create a community-shared office.
  • Establish weekly entertainment for the community.
  • Narrow or eliminate streets, converting more space to park and edible landscape, walkways and picnic areas.
  • Retrofit garages and rooms in your homes into apartments or add granny flats to house students or others in need of housing.
  • Establish a mixed-use neighborhood by opening a coffee shop, convenience store, and garden market.
  • Promote a more diverse neighborhood.

From Dan Chiras & Dave Wann (2003). Superbia!: 31 ways to create sustainable neighborhoods. Gabriola, B.C.: New Society. This list courtesy of Terrain.org, a journal of the built and natural environments. Visit Dave Wann’s website.

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