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Block Clubs, Block Associations, Community Gardens and CrimePrevention

  • Subject: [cg] Block Clubs, Block Associations, Community Gardens and CrimePrevention
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005 21:35:34 EST


This is from the Camden News of Minneapolis,  Minnesota on organizing Block 
Clubs ( Block Associations to us New Yorkers) which include community gardening 
as part of the means neighbors build community and fight crime. 

Adam Honigman

Crime Prevention Corner - building blocks


By Crime Prevention Specialist Tim Hammett

                February is a great time to start thinking about block clubs. 
Whether you're already participating in an active block club, or are thinking 
about getting one started, the plans you make now will get you off to a good 
start this spring - when  the pace of life increases and the demands on our 
time grow.

    Since its inception, the Community Crime Prevention/SAFE Unit of the 
Minneapolis Police Department has worked to establish block clubs throughout the 
city. It's a major part of each Crime Prevention Specialist's job to recruit, 
train and support block clubs and block club leaders. The Minneapolis Police 
Department places so much emphasis on this because we find that block clubs are 
one of the most effective tools available to citizens in reducing crime and 
increasing public safety.

   Simply stated, a block club is a group of neighbors who come together on a 
regular basis to discuss and work on issues or projects of common interest. A 
block club can be a group of neighbors across the street and/or alley from 
each other. A block club can be one, two or three blocks in size, whatever is 
manageable. Bear in mind that the more area you cover, the more potential issues 
you'll have to deal with.  Block clubs can also be organized in apartment 
buildings, by floors or whole buildings, depending on the size and interest.  

    Block clubs provide a way for people to meet each other and build the 
mutual recognition and trust needed to implement effective crime prevention strat
egies; which are much more effective when approached by groups than by 
individuals. Many pairs of eyes on the street provide more effective surveillance 
than just one. A group of people can bring more perspectives, ideas and energy to 
problem solving.    

    Block clubs provide a forum to educate, exchange information, keep people 
informed on neighborhood crime trends, and evaluate the success of watch 
force activities. Crime Prevention Specialists meet regularly with block clubs and 
provide crime and safety information to block club members. Block Clubs 
provide a way for groups to brainstorm creative solutions to problems, make group 
decisions and implement group actions. They also help to build healthy 
communities; and healthy, engaged communities are much less likely to experience crime 
in the first place.

    Block clubs are not just about crime prevention and problem solving. They 
build a sense of community and provide an opportunity for neighbors to get 
together and have fun. Pot luck dinners, organizing youth activities, street 
dances, craft or card parties, and talent shows are some examples of social 
activities that block clubs can do just for the fun of it. Block improvements like 
group litter pick-ups, street and alley beautification, community gardening, 
graffiti removal, and co-operative maintenance are also things that block clubs 
can do to improve their neighborhoods and build community. And the good news 
is that doing these things will also contribute to crime reduction and 
increased security.

    If you're interested in getting a block club started on your block, call 
your local Crime Prevention Specialist to help you get started. Community 
Crime Prevention/SAFE offers Block Leader Training to people interested in 
organizing their block. Your Crime Prevention Specialist can give you the details. 
Then, talk to your neighbors to get them interested. You will probably find that 
they already are and they're just waiting for someone to take the lead.  

    If you're block is already organized, but hasn't been active for a while, 
give your block leader a call and offer to help get something going again. 
Remaining active is an important part of maintaining the effectiveness of a 
block club. CCP/SAFE recommends at least two events a year, more if possible. If 
you are already a block leader but haven't been active for a while, call your 
Crime Prevention Specialist for some ideas on how to get going again.   

    An active block club offers many benefits to a neighborhood.  Block clubs 
are an effective tool in crime prevention. Block clubs provide neighbors with 
a way to get together and socialize, and they provide citizens with 
information about and help facilitate access to city services. They help connect adults 
in the neighborhood with kids, and they provide a means for neighbors to work 
together to solve problems and make neighborhood improvements. Start planning 
now for an effective block club this spring.  For info call your local Crime 
Prevention Specialist at  the 4th Precinct, 673-2803. 


The Camden Community News

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