Fw: [intentionalcommunityvictoria] Neighbourhood newsletter idea
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Bruce Thomson <bthomson@e...>
Date: Thu Nov 18, 2004 8:59 am
Subject: Neighbourhood newsletter idea
This is how I have started my two different neighbourhood groups, one in
Toronto, (Ashdale Village Resource Group) and another in Palmerston North
(Chelwood Village Resource Group).
Sample newsletters are attached.
Very few participants here (about four or five) but previously in
had dozens. Here, I'm building it up. It takes effort, patience, social
contacting. We have a brunch this Sunday morning 11am, for example
The newsletter, copied five per page, and then cut into individual
newsletters, costs 1c per household.
Invent a 'village' (neighbourhood) of no more than about 600 homes. That
way people are truly quite nearby each other, about max five or six
Choose physical borders such as major highways, a river, a huge industry
wall, etc. and include a map in every newsletter to give everyone a
definite sense of place and a sense of belonging (Even clearly exclude
outsiders from it. They can create their own villages if they want to.
it clear, you're either 'in' or 'out', so it's not a confusing shambles of
Get a council map of the streets and houses from the city council, for
about $20 or less. Then scan it and copy from it your 'village' only, and
put a village name on the top. You can get your village 'recognized'
officially if you and a neighbhour or two write to the council asking for
speed bumps or landscaping, using your map. The council staff start
referring to your area by the name you've given it, and using your map
borders when talking about it.
Make friends with city councillors, and get them onside. Invariably they
have supported my 'villages'. Don't let them 'own' you though.
When you get interested participants, hold a small meeting.
Get yourself voted in as the president of the NameName Village Resource
Group (which gives you excellent credibility as an an elected
representative when talking to council or institutions).
Ask the others if they'll help you by delivering a street or two next time
you put the newsletter out. I have about four deliverers, plus me. It only
takes a half hour to do a street, so you're not asking for much.
Also, create a Yahoo egroup for them and others interested in
conversations. Even do that first, and put the website address in your
Sorry, I can't let you join those egroups because they are for neighbours
in those areas only.
If you can promote a community garden or even a parkette, it becomes a
physical public meeting place other than just your home. A garden can also
mean food production.
I've put in hundreds of hours developing my villages. It has sometimes
awesome and 'miraculous' though, materializing friendships (and even a
girlfriend, conveniently of course, within easy walking distance) from a
meaningless block of city full of strangers. Note: There's no pay in it,
it's all social benefits.
My activities, were sometimes hard work and even dirty (litter cleanup
where rotton meat and disposable diapers were dumped into our home-made
litter bins, attracting crawling maggots and retch-inducing smells). But
still they were mostly interesting and satisfying. Here is a list of
- Inventing the village, by choosing the area, and the name, and the logo,
- Publicly cleaning up neighbourhood litter on my own, to attract
- Scouting round the village to see the issues (litter, vandalism, crime,
- Taking digital camera photos for newsletter, and musing about at home on
my PC at night
- Constructing home-made litter bins and installing them at strategic
- Regularly clearing the bins on rubbish day, with council consent, and
help from other residents.
- Similarly, creating doggie bag dispensers, and ensuring they were
supplied with plastic bags.
- Using MS Word to create newsletters, deciding content, events, contacts
to put in
- Organizing creation of parkettes, transforming junk land into lovely
- Hosting and facilititating meetings of between two and 29 neighbours
- Conferring with city council, on traffic calming, waste management,
- Regular mowing of parkette lawns, removing stumps, weeding,
- Paint spruce-ups, and regular graffiti paint-over, (free paint from
council's toxic waste depot, & locals)
- Getting irrigation tap for parkette installed by council
- Confronting louts and loutesses in a teenage gang
- Helping family-worried residents get crack house (drugs, wholesaler) &
marijuana business stopped.
- Unsuccessfully opposing loss of some greenspace to developer-built
- A 50-attendee commemoration in the parkette, of an old resident who
helped us build the parkette
- Arranging whole-village garage sales. (Be sure to make your signs look
'rough & ready' cheap, not 'flash')
- Going to movies on cheap night with residents, and also going on village
walkabouts with them.
- Cuppas, meals with residents, litter pickup sessions, phone yarns,
arguments, lovemaking, laughing.
20 Lyndhurst Street,
"Never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change
the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead