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How to start a Block Club in Detroit

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Starting a block club is one way for Detroiters to take care of their neighborhood. This guide will walk you step-by-step through the process of creating one for your block.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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How to start a Block Club in Detroit

  1. 1. Mayor Mike Duggan BLOCK CLUB TRAINING
  2. 2. What is a Block Club?  A block club is composed of neighbors that come together to discuss the conditions of the block and potential problem areas.  It is also an opportunity to develop relationships and hold social events.  Other purposes of block clubs include neighborhood safety and problem solving.
  3. 3. How can forming a block club help you?  Improve the physical and safety environment of the neighborhood  Eliminate negative influences in the neighborhood  Improve health, safety, physical, and economic standards of residents, through work with government departments and other agencies  Develop a spirit of cooperation and social interaction amongst residents  Knowing your neighbors and creating a sense of community
  4. 4. How to Form A Block Club  It only takes two or more people.  Organize a way to contact other people on the block  You can set up communication channels such as posters, flyers, and announcements in the community or church newspapers.  First block club meeting, personal contact is best.  Only a few dedicated people are needed to get your group started. Make decisions on where to start.  Contact your District Manager to acquire a block club application and register with the City of Detroit
  5. 5. Do we need a name for our block club?  A name will give your block club a presence.  It can be as simple as naming it after your street, or a more creative name can be decided upon.
  6. 6. Strategies to deal with challenging neighbors & attitudes In the process of inviting your neighbors to your first Block Club meeting, it might be possible that one or two of your neighbors will respond negatively to the idea. Don’t be discouraged and don’t take it personally! They just need a little more convincing about the benefits of neighbors coming together as a group. These are some responses that you could use to address a less than enthusiastic response to the idea of a neighborhood block club.
  7. 7. Comments /Typical Responses  Their comment: “Organizing a Block Club? That’s a great idea, but it’ll never work in this neighborhood. The neighbors don’t even know each other.”  Your response: “That’s the problem and a Block Club is the solution! How can you solve problems if you don’t know your neighbors well enough to work together on issues that affect all of us in the neighborhood?”  Their comment: “I don’t want to get involved and be a nosy neighbor.”  Your response: “Many people have discovered that getting involved doesn’t mean being nosy; it means being concerned for your neighbors and your neighborhood.”  Their comment: “We don’t have any crime in our area. This is a nice, quiet neighborhood.”  Your response: “Organizing a Block Club can keep it that way. A close knit neighborhood is a safe neighborhood. It can be helpful in addressing other neighborhood concerns as well.”  Their comment: “We will always have crime in our neighborhood. There is nothing we can do about it.”  Your response: “We will always have crime but a Block Club brings people together so that we don’t feel alone when bad things happen. Together we can work on these problems and together we share our concerns as one voice with the police or elected officials.”  Their comment: “I just don’t have time to be involved.”  Your response: “We do not need to meet very often…just once a month…in order to be effective as a group. These meetings will only last 1 to 1½ hours.”
  8. 8. What kinds of projects can be done by the block club? Projects can include (but are not limited to):  Compiling a contact list of residents and owners on the block; cleaning up a problem property  Creating a community garden or flower garden  Having a block picnic for residents  Delivering newsletters and other information  Having the police or guest speaker meet with your block club
  9. 9. Where to Start  The actual boundaries of the organization could possibly be only half of a block, one side of the block, both sides of the street facing each other, both sides facing the alley, or even a single apartment building.  The boundaries will depend on such factors as how large is the block, the population density, size of available meeting places, and the nature of the problems in the neighborhood.  For example, if your problems center on alley up-keep, you might want to organize residents on both sides of the alley.  The group should be large enough to tackle your problems with some assurance of success, but not so large that there is little chance for people to get to know one another, let alone trade ideas.
  10. 10. Where to Start Contd.  Once you decide the boundaries, you should proceed to contact everyone who lives in those boundaries including, owners, renters, newcomers and seniors.  Send out a letter to residents stating the agreed upon block standards  All the residents will depend on each other for the enforcement of these standards.  For example, even those persons who don’t comply with such things as cutting their grass, putting trash in the proper storage containers or keeping up the exterior of their property should be contacted to participate.  Only by getting everyone to cooperate can others be influenced and persuaded to conform to the wishes of the rest of the neighbors.
  11. 11. Where to Meet  Local Church  Resident’s Back Yard  Recreation Center  East Side Community Network
  12. 12. The First Meeting  Come up with a temporary President to run the 1st Meeting  Set an Agenda  Invite a speaker from an already established and successful neighborhood organization to describe how their group got started and some of the possibilities for your group.  Elect officers (usually a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer) for a temporary period, such as three months.  Appoint temporary special committees such as: Constitution and by-laws committee, membership committee, complaint/investigation committee, etc.  Set a time and place for the next meeting. Notification of members is usually the responsibility of the Secretary.
  13. 13. Responsibility of a Block Club Captain/Co-Captains  The Block Club Captain is the club’s link to law enforcement.  Responsible for coordinating information with the police and the community Liaison Officer as well as information to be distributed to the club members.  Developing a phone tree and a neighborhood map as well as organizing and planning future meetings.  This may include getting a speaker to attend a meeting and give a presentation on a topic pertinent to your community.  Oversee the planning of Block Club events.  Encourage all neighbors to be alert in the neighborhood and report suspicious behavior.
  14. 14. Fun Community Building Activities  Movie or card party night  Kids parties or activities  Create a neighborhood newsletter  Citizen patrols on Halloween  Specially designed outreach to address a crime issue and measure community response  Exchange of services- babysitting, fix-ups, snow shoveling, etc.  •Block Parties  Guest speakers-police officer, locksmith, council member, etc.  Crime Prevention Through landscaping or exterior home improvement  Neighborhood flower planting or vacant lot improvement  Cleanups that include not only debris but graffiti, alleys, leaf raking, lawn mow•  Walking Block Meetings or a “Walk Against Violence”
  15. 15. Problem Solving Strategies  The practice of solving neighborhood issues and concerns is the responsibility of all involved within the Block Club. No one person should take it upon himself/herself to resolve all issues all the time. This is a team concept, use the entire team. The following are useful steps that could assist in resolving a problem.  1. Identify concerns  2. Prioritize  3. Recognize underlying causes  4. Create a plan  5. Act upon decisions  6. Evaluate results

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