Block Clubs

How to Start a Block Club

Getting Started
This is the hardest step. Talk with your neighbors; find out their concerns as well as their likes and dislikes within your neighborhood. While you walking the neighborhood, take a look around. What are the problems you see? Some things to note:

-Vacant houses

-Vacant lots

-Abandoned vehicles

-Lighting issues

-Signage problems

-Hot spots that attract loitering and trouble

Schedule a Meeting
If you have a meeting place with in the neighborhood, this usually works best. Don't hesitate to have the meeting on someone's front porch, or back porch when the weather is good. Churches, fire stations, police stations and libraries often have meeting rooms you can also use.
Once you pick a place, decide on a date and time. Weekday evenings seem to work out, but base this on your neighbors needs. Mondays and Fridays can be hectic for people, so consider Tuesdays through Thursday, in the 6:00 to 8:00p.m. range. Meetings should not last more than one hour, unless there is something special being planned. Some refreshments should be on hand, if nothing else for the bored children that a single parent has to bring along. Some groups have large "pot luck" style meetings where everyone brings a dish. This is not necessary, but may be an option for busy families if you are meeting during dinner hour.

Send Out a Flyer
This should be a simple document stating date, time and place of your meeting. If you have a name in mind for your club, you could put that in there. Make sure the flyer states that anyone from the street, block or area is welcome; include landlords, business people, owners, and renters. Your contact information should be on the flyer. You can list just your name and address if you want, or just a phone number or email. Your Neighborhood Service Center (NSC) Officers can assist with the making of the flyer, and also mailing it out. You can also choose to hand deliver the flyer, which gives you another opportunity to talk with neighbors and stir up interest. When speaking with neighbors, and perhaps in the flyer, mention that this club is not just for problem solving, but also to socialize.

Your First Meeting

Prior to the meeting, assemble everything you will need. Someone should take notes, to ensure that all problems brought up can be addressed and monitored. You might want to consider getting name tags for people to wear. Some folks have a hard time with names, unless someone prefers to be addresses as "Mr. or Mrs. So and so". Some snacks or drinks might be a good way to put people at ease and make the event more social. You will want a sign-in sheet also for people to list their contact info. Ask is neighbors are interested in a "phone tree"; use this contact info to create this. Your Neighborhood Service Center (NSC) officers can assist with all the forms. Or download them below. Start your meeting promptly at the time started in the flyer. Introductions are a good way to start. Everyone should not only say their name, but a little about themselves, like how long they've lived on the street or in the area, their family situation, what they hope to get out of this. This is important information, as you may find people have very different goals and your club should strive to meet them all. At this first meeting, decide when your regular meeting date and time will be. Generally the same day each month work best, as in third Tuesday, first Wednesday, etc. Start with a list of everyone's concerns on any matter within your area. Some you may be able to address and solve that night. Others you may want to bring to the NSC office to be addressed by Code Enforcement, the police or other city agencies that the NSC is able to contact. If you have a good attendance, you might want to ask for volunteers for sub committies, such as a Housing Committee that works with landlords on problems that arise with tenants or due to absentee landlords; a beautification committee to work on graffiti, plant flowers, etc; a recreation committee to organize neighborhood basketball, softball, kickball games, or even card games and other social events. These are all things your club can work on as a whole also. Assigning people or committees just splits up the work and gets everyone involved. You could also designate one person to act as a liaison to the police and bring complaints on behalf of the neighborhood so complainants don't feel singled out and can even remain anonymous.

Projects for Your Block Club
If time permits, you could pick dates for these at your first meeting, otherwise, wait for the second or third, depending on how many other issues you have going on.
-Street clean-up. A weekend is usually a good time to schedule this event. Vacant lots can be cleaned up and mowed, homes belonging to the elderly that are not capable of as much physical labor can be tended to. Litter can be picked up, leaves raked, flowers planted, anything that improves the look of the street. If you give the NSC a week or so notice they can supply rakes, trash bags, gloves, etc.
-Safety presentations with the police. The NSC can schedule all sorts of different presentations. Home safety, safety on the streets, how the criminal justice system works, and many more.
-Informative presentations from other agencies. Representatives from various agencies can come give presentations. Examples would be social services, recreational facilities such as the boys and girls club, or organizations like Neighborworks.
-CPR classes. Your club could also bring in the Red Cross and have a training night.

Starting a block club is hard work no doubt. It is also a very effective tool in reducing crime in your neighborhood. There is plenty of help available, so please don't think you have to do this alone. After your first meeting, come to the NSC and register yourselves as a block club. This entitles you to certain things, like free mailings and notification of events, and quite possibly FUNDS for you to use in your neighborhood. The Crime Prevention Officers that work out of the NSC can attend your meetings. There are some clubs that have the NSC at every meeting, others they attend occasionally. It all depends on what you and your club wants. Regardless of the NSC involvement in your meetings, they can provide you with forms and even a meeting place, if need be, in their office.

Don't hesitate to contact the NSC for any questions of assistance.

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