One of the ways to tell warm weather is here to stay is to look around and see everyone outside talking with their neighbors after work, sharing garden tools and tips on the weekend, and going for a walk together in the morning.
So what is a neighbor and why are your neighbors so important in keeping crime out of your community? “Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary” has three definitions for neighbor, ranging from “being immediately adjoining or relatively near,” to “fellowman,” and even “to associate in a neighborly way.”
While it is important to know the folks on either side of you, it is vital that you “associate in a neighborly way” with your community. We are all “fellowman” to each other and getting to know everyone around you is a sure way to keep crime out of your neighborhood.
Why is this the case? Because if you know that older “Mrs. Smith” down the street doesn’t have children visiting her on weekends, then you can check on her when you see the two men trying to get in her back door.
The Westside is still experiencing break-ins during the day, most between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and they are ransacking homes and garages. This is being done through careful casing of the neighborhood.
Don’t know those kids on the bikes? Talk to them – if they are truant, encourage them to get back to school or call the police at 645-4545. How about the man slowly walking down the street, carefully looking at homes and then making a call on his cell phone? Again – talk to him or call the police.
We must take ownership of our slice of the Westside. If we don’t, the criminals will continue to do so. Be aware that this is an urban area; know your surroundings and the people who frequent your neighborhood!
Don’t move, get even by joining the blockwatch and being neighborly! Check out Camp Chase’s Web site: www.campchaseblockwatch.org – we have added a neighborhood forum for the Westside where folks can barter items, exchange neighborhood information, swap plants – you name it! This is a way to connect in a kind and mannerly way and share polite, verifiable information.
On another note, if you are a new resident, how do you find out about what is going on around you? Get to know your neighbors – older residents, take the time to reach out to your new neighbors. They don’t know important neighborhood information yet and don’t assume that they are getting it from somewhere else. For example:
•New residents need to know what day trash is collected and what regulations must be followed.
•How is yard waste picked up?
•Where are you local recycling areas?
Which leads me to close with a request for solidarity: Join your blockwatch and patrol with neighbors!
Join Westgate Neighbors Association, Kiwanis or some such civic group! Join Friends of Westgate Park and Friends of the Hilltop! Attend the Greater Hilltop Area Commission meetings! These are just a few of the wonderful community groups on the Westside that assist in crime prevention, beautification, and outreach.
Everyone can join, be a part of, and do something. We need to fight urban blight, one piece of trash at at time; crime, one neighborhood at a time, and apathy, one person at a time.
Lisa Grazier is coordinator of the Camp Chase Blockwatch.