Every strong community is built on a foundation of personal relationships. People are social beings. We think more dynamically, are more likely to thrive, and simply have more fun when we function in the context of close, positive relationships with each other.
How well do you know the neighbors on your block? There are lots of reasons to organize, including being able to better collaborate on solving problems and sharing opportunities or resources; increasing public safety by practicing crime prevention tactics as a cohesive group; improving the beautification and environmental friendliness of the neighborhood with gardening or planting projects; caring for one another in times of emergency; and overall enjoying the place you live with the people around you.
You can download a free Block Club Organizer Manual at the bottom of this page to get started bringing your block together. If you’re interested in becoming a Block Club Leader, contact Melissa Cortes at melissa[at]hamlinemidway[dot]org or 651-494-7683.
WHAT IS A BLOCK CLUB?
A block club is a group of neighbors, living within one or more city blocks, who are committed to knowing one another in order to socialize, address common concerns, promote communication, and improve block safety.
A block club usually includes houses on a block facing each other but may span several blocks and may include homes across an alley. The area a block club encompasses is up to the residents—whatever arrangement makes the most sense geographically or socially in their neighborhood.
Residents can decide to organize at any level. Some block clubs are very active, with regular gatherings and communications. Others communicate sporadically or only when an issue arises.
Clubs may become involved with community issues such as working with youth and seniors, recycling, beautification, traffic calming, crime prevention, community development, and other district council activities. In being actively involved, residents are taking responsibility for themselves and their neighborhood. They are working together to solve problems and keep the area safe and thriving.
WHY ORGANIZE A BLOCK CLUB?
People are social beings. Humans think more flexibly, are more likely to thrive, and just plain have more fun when we function in the context of close, positive relationships with each other. We may at times feel that living and acting in isolation is a more comfortable option, but it will not help us to solve problems and it’s nowhere near as fun.
Here are some reasons to organize your block:
When you already know your neighbors, it is much easier to collaborate on solving problems and sharing opportunities and resources. Your enjoyment of your neighborhood is likely to grow as you get to know and trust your neighbors. Hamline Midway Coalition supports block club organizers with trainings and resources that can bring value to your neighborhood. Block clubs serve as the “building blocks” for involvement of residents in a range of community-wide activities. Many block clubs socialize regularly, and then meet to discuss and solve issues as they arise.
Our community is affected by a complex set of changing global and national conditions. These changes “trickle down” to affect the economic, political, and social life of our city and our neighborhood. We experience some of those changes negatively in the form of poverty, crime, environmental and social deterioration, lack of opportunities for youth and feelings of alienation and powerlessness.
While we may not solve all the world’s problems from here in the neighborhood, we often underestimate just how much of an impact we can have. Together with our residents, we can “take back our neighborhoods” and reclaim our streets. Never underestimate what a small, organized group of people can accomplish.
BENEFITS OF BLOCK CLUBS
- These are just some of the things block clubs already accomplish in our neighborhoods.
- Create a welcoming atmosphere and welcome new neighbors.
- Increase public safety and perception of public safety.
- Resolve “problem property” issues such as nuisances, trash, and disrepair.
- Address issues of concern (e.g. noise, traffic, parking, trash).
- Organize socially (e.g. a block party or garage sale).
- Improve the environment, aid in the “greening” and beautification of the neighborhood.
- Establish babysitting co-ops and/or parenting clubs.
- Keep alleys clean, well lit, and safe.
- Collaborate with commercial neighbors.
- Transmit vital information between residents and city or community organizations.
- Take the lead in creating or influencing city policies.
- Develop local leadership.
- Assist neighbors in times of emergency.