National Night Out resources and ideas

in art, Asset-Based Community Development, Resources

These are some resources you can use to plan community-building activities in your neighborhood around National Night Out.

The National Night Out website. From the About page: NNO is designed to Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs; Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. “Last year’s National Night Out campaign involved citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from over 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. In all, over 36 million people participated.”

Click here for National Night Out Party Ideas. Excerpts:

  • Serve food, but keep it simple: Watermelon, Lemonade, Coffee, tea and dessert, Ice cream cones, Pretzels and chips, Fruit and cheese plates, Pizza, Cookies, Hamburgers, Hot dogs, Corn on the cob, Salads.
  • Facilitate conversations: Design a mixer: “Find a person who…” – with prizes, Block history stories, National Night Out stories, Photos from past block parties and NNO events, Oldest resident award, Longest resident award, Newest resident award.
  • Do something for the community: Collect for a food bank, Beautify a common area, Plan a fall clean-up or bulb planting, Recruit additional Neighborhood Watch leaders and block captains, Discuss neighborhood problems & opportunities, Distribute neighborhood block list.
  • Have fun: Bike parade, Board games, Skits, Make a mural or banner, Coloring Contest, Pony rides, 3-legged race, Football, baseball, basketball, street hockey, Roller blade, Youth parade with a theme, Jump rope, Chalk art, Face painting, Bubbles, Sack races, Magic show, Sing-alongs, Water balloons, Frisbee competition, Piñata, Clowns, Bike Safety, Child ID Kits, Block party, Cookout, Parade, Jump rope contest, Hula hoop contest, Barbecue, Street dance, Volleyball, Storytelling (truth or fiction), Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Scavenger hunt, Take lots of pictures, Karaoke, Rummage sale, Music and DJ, Dunk tank, Movies, Sandy beach party, Street carnival, Disposable camera distribution/photo contest, Self-defense demonstration, Jail & Bail, K-9 demonstration, Funniest hat contest, Welcome new neighbors, Live music, Horseshoes

There’s always something: Read the Trademark Fact Sheet (“Violators will be subject to legal action”). For instance, if your group needs to raise funds for your NNO, and you want to hit up a local business, you need to let it know that it “may not have its participation/association with NNO publicly advertised, displayed or promoted, unless it is registered as an official NNO sponsor with NATW’s national office, or unless NATW extends advance written approval.”

Other resources:

Have you organized NNO activities in the past? We’re helping organize some communities around NNO this year, and hope you can help by sharing stories, tips, do’s and don’ts. Particularly interested in how you kept the community going after NNO. – Thanks

Bringing people together to make things better

in art, Asset-Based Community Development, Resources

15th in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Brian Fier is involved in community building and development. He is interested in information dissemination, collaboration, and improving communities. Additionally, he is developing tools for connecting people to each other and to information with the intention of helping improve communities and people’s lives. One such project is Campus Dakota (@CampusDakota) where he is the President and Community Developer. Brian has a master’s and bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University; his coursework was focused on the social sciences. He is also a Firefighter and Paramedic Specialist with Bettendorf Fire Rescue, and Flotilla Staff Officer in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

[Brian is the latest Blockhead to sign up to run this site, and this is his first post. Welcome aboard, Officer Fier. - Eds]

Do you want to bring people together to make things better, but don’t know how to go about it? The Community Tool Box offers detailed resources related to creating and maintaining coalitions and partnerships. The resource is divided into the six areas listed below. Each section provides easy to follow information and tools for getting started on tackling an issue.


Outline for Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

This section provides a broad overview on creating and maintaining coalitions and partnerships. It provides questions to consider, steps to take, ideas to ponder, and more. If you do not know where to start, start with this section and continue from there.


Outline with links to tools

Expanding beyond the outline from the previous section, this section provides many links to other resources that will help you consider different things as you work to build and maintain coalitions and partnerships.


How-to Information on Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

If you are looking for a direct how-to this is the place for you.


Examples of Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

Take a look at the following four examples of how real people and organizations went about building and maintaining coalitions and partnerships:


Quick Tips and Tools for doing this work

Do you want some quick tips and tools? Check out:


Links to other online resources for Creating and Maintaining Coalitions and Partnerships

Want more resources? Check out these links.

How to be an urban change agent – Favorite guides of Shareable readers

in art, Asset-Based Community Development, Resources

by Kelly McCartney, reposted from How to Be an Urban Change Agent, Shareable Style, published 05.18.11 by Shareable

Subscribe to Kelly’s blog, thekelword, and to the Shareable rss feed. See more links below.

The John Lennon tribute in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields. Credit: Kerry Kehoe.

There’s a movement – or two, or many – under foot. It goes by myriad names and comes in an array colors. The common thread, though, involves citizens stepping up to better their surroundings, to create safer, more livable, and more environmentally sound urban environments. According to the folks at Pattern Cities, some popular monikers include “guerilla urbanism,” “pop-up urbanism,” “new urbanism,” “changescaping,” or “D.I.Y. urbanism.” They, however, prefer the “tactical urbanism” approach which is defined with five specific criteria:

  • A deliberate, phased approach to instigating change;
  • The offering of local solutions for local planning challenges;
  • Short-term commitment and realistic expectations;
  • Low-risks, with a possibly a high reward; and
  • The development of social capital between citizens and the building of organizational capacity between public-private institutions, non-profits, and their constituents.

Such a strategy employs an incremental approach in order to test real-world solutions to real-world problems in the urban environment. Like any good incubator project, small-scale experimentation demands fewer resources, be they time, funds, or man hours. The hope here is that positive results are scalable. The definition of true tactical urbanism hinges on the institutional involvement and long-term vision.

In contrast, so-called D.I.Y. or guerilla urbanism affects temporary change in a more localized setting and is instigated from the bottom up without, necessarily, an eye toward the bigger picture. These actions amount to social interventions in the name of bettering a community or furthering a cause.

In a shareable world, there is room for both of these divergent, albeit similar, strategies, and everything in between. Indeed, intiatives from many camps are proving successful in cities around the world. Here at Shareable, we’ve written numerous guides for shaping your urban environment and community. Below are our readers’ favorite ideas.

How to Be an Urban Change Agent

A good first step to begin your urban experiments is to start a neighborhood work group to get your community’s support, input, and resources from which to draw. After that, the sky is really the limit for what a group of committed people can do.

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

in art, Asset-Based Community Development, Resources

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:

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Lessons learned – from Neighbor Power, by Jim Diers

in art, Asset-Based Community Development, Resources

Get the Book

Excerpts from Neighbor Power, by Jim Diers. I will conclude by summarizing what I have learned about community, community organizing, community initiatives, and the role of government.

A neighborhood is not the same as a community. A neighborhood is a geographic area that people share, while at community is a group of people who identify with and support one another.

Strong communities are those that rely on their own resources, including the assets that each and every person possesses.

Individual reciprocity is not sufficient. Communities are most powerful when they take collective action. The process of building that kind of power is called community organizing.

The key to community organizing is to start where the people are. The more local the activity, the higher the percentage of people who will get involved.

Organizing entails building on existing networks. Most people are already organized and cannot reasonably be expected to develop an entirely new set of relationships and find time for yet another organization.

Starting where people are also involves identifying their interests. That means listening. The organizer should be prepared to hear and understand interests that may be different from her own.

If a common interest involves an issue, that issue should be framed in a way that is as immediate, as specific, and as achievable as possible. People get involved to the extent that they can have an impact on the things they care about.

Community plans, projects, and social events are good ways to bring people together. Whatever the approach, whatever the issue, it is best to think big and start small.

Community self-help projects tend to have qualities that are missing in projects generated by institutions. Innovations are more likely to emanate from community efforts. Communities have a knack for converting a problem into an asset.
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