Tools to start a Block Club
Safe & Sound organizers work with willing residents to support them in doing outreach, organizing efforts, and facilitating monthly meetings with fellow residents and youth. An organizer supports residents when needed but focuses on training the residents involved to connect them with needed resources and bring in third parties when necessary.
Safe & Sound works to support existing block clubs and start new ones where needed. To establish a block club, the community organizer will first canvas the prospective neighborhood, preferably with a resident from that block or neighborhood. Second, the organizer will perform knock-and-talks with residents to listen to their concerns while also asking them to become involved in the new block club. We will ask them what level of involvement they can commit to regarding phone calls, e-mails, meetings, and events. After going through this process a few times, our organizers hope to engage 1-12 residents, scheduling a meeting to discuss concerns in the neighborhood, and creating an official Block Club.
Contact your Community Organizer to get started!
Getting Started at the Neighborhood Level
The best way to organize a Block Club is to build upon the existing active residents and relationships. A Block Club is a more formal invitation to ‘get involved’ and creates a community among neighbors. This sense of community can be created by hosting Block Club events that include activities that everyone in the neighborhood can help plan, participate in, and enjoy. If no Block or Neighborhood Watch exists a Block Club can still be formed, but the crime prevention and crime awareness aspect of a watch program and the involvement of law enforcement should be included.
Organizing the First Meeting:
You can organize an informal social event at your home or local church, to get the process started. A local community organizer or Community Liaison Officer can be contacted to attend the meeting and discuss the benefits of a Block Club, information on crime occurring in your area, and useful tips to reduce crime.
Effective ways to get people to the first meeting:
Reaching out to all of the neighbors is important. Distribute the flyers noting the location, time, and purpose of the meeting seven to ten days before the meeting to the neighborhood. You might also want to include the topic you will be discussing.
When distributing flyers to the neighbors, try to speak to the neighbor as well. Personal contact helps to develop a sense of community and friendly relations. Although it takes more time, personal contacts allow you to learn about your neighbor’s interests and ask them about concerns they would like to see discussed at the meeting.
When inviting neighbors, try to get them to commit to attending your Block Club meeting. They may be more likely to attend so as not to disappoint you.
Arrange for refreshments:
Food is always a good draw. Even lemonade and cookies can go a long way towards enticing your neighbors to the meeting.
Reminder phone calls: If you have the time, give a reminder phone call to your neighbors and other invited guests the day before the meeting.
What the block meeting should include--
Welcome and Sign In:
Welcome everyone and let them know how long the meeting will last. Use a sign-in sheet to keep track of who is present at the meeting. Read aloud the agenda and items to be covered and tell residents there will be time after the meeting to ask questions. Start the meeting on time and end on time by providing and opportunity for introductions at the start of the meeting and informal discussion periods after the meeting.
Let residents introduce themselves by giving their names and addresses.
Discussion of Neighborhood Issues:
Allow residents time to raise specific neighborhood concerns. At the first few meetings, residents might express anger and frustration over neighborhood problems and criticize law enforcement for not doing more to address their problems. As time goes on though, residents will use this time to focus on specific issues and ways to address them.
Crime Prevention Presentation:
During the first meeting, the Community Liaison Officer or their representative will provide information on crime prevention topics and ways to maintain an active Block Club.
Selection of a Block Club Captain or Co-Captains:
The basic structure of a Block Club involves a captain or co-captains and members. A captain can be elected by the members during the first meeting or can just be unofficially decided until a later meeting. It is recommended that the captain and co-captain are assigned for a specific period of time, such as one year, which enables transition and sharing of responsibility.
Issues for the Next Meeting:
Before the meeting adjourns, plan on the issues to be discussed at the next meeting.
Date, Time and Place for Next Meeting:
Members usually meet once a month or, at the least, every other month. Captains and other members involved with planning, training and meeting activities usually meet more often.
Conclusion/Refreshments and Sharing:
The time after the meeting can be as important as the meeting itself. During this time, members can have the opportunity to visit and build friendships and informally brainstorm on future goals and strategies.