With the passing of every year, we resolve and promise to do things related to personal betterment.
We should look at things we can do to improve our neighborhoods and communities, too.
Here are five things you can do without much effort to make that happen.
- Get involved: At the monthly meetings of some neighborhoods, like Candler Park and Old Fourth Ward, residents come out en masse to listen to what's going on in the community, get updates on development and crime and ask questions of public officials. But in others, the level of attendance is smaller, forcing a handful of residents to shoulder most of the burden with neighborhood goings-on. Even you can't attend every meeting, you can follow what's happening by linking to your neighborhood's Facebook page, Twitter page or Yahoo group listserv.
- Support your local schools: The redistricting of APS schools brought out lots of passion and concerns from parents and teachers all over the Patch last year. Some neighborhood schools like Mary Lin Elementary are fortunate enough to have the support of feeder neighborhoods with the financial resources to pay for the materials and equipment APS doesn't have the money to fund. Others like Drew Charter have backing of foundations. It's not always about dollars; you can donate your time and talent to your local school. Like to read? See if your local school principal would like to have a reading day to the little kids or maybe serve as a tutor to kids in subjects in which they need a little help. Have a green thumb? Help your school with a beautification project by planting flowers or partnering up with organizations such as Georgia Organics to see about creating a school vegetable and herb garden.
- Support local businesses: While it's true national companies such as Wells Fargo & Co. give money and the time of their staff to local causes, it's just as important to support local businesses by patronizing them when you can. In many cases, those small business owners live in our neighborhoods and any number of economic studies show that dollars spent at local businesses circulate several times over in the local economy before leaving.
- Get involved in crime prevention: It's a city, crime happens. But you can do your part by joining and funding your local neighborhood crime patrols and crime watches before a big incident rattles the neighborhood. Sure, there's a cost, but the more off-duty patrols our neighborhoods can secure in addition to regular on-duty patrols, the better. Additionally, if you hear or see something, call 911 and then e-mail or contact your neighborhood listserv and public safety leader. If there's a continued problem, it may take repeated calls over several months before it's resolved to your satisfaction. We know of one case in East Atlanta where a business blared music at all hours of the night seven days a week. After a concerted effort by several surrounding homeowners and a blitzkrieg of phone calls police, APD ended up planting a patrolman at times at the offending property. The business got the message.
- Be neighborly: Respect your neighbors' property. One issue that has come up repeatedly from Ormewood Park to Inman Park to East Atlanta is the use of others' Hurbie Kirbies when it comes to dog waste. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, it's not the biggest issue but it is a quality of life nuisance. Some folks don't like their garbage cans serving as public dumping grounds for dog poop or other rubbish you don't feel like carrying back home or to designated public receptacle. Some residents in Ormewood Park, for example, have suggested placing dog stickers on Hurbie Curbies to let dog owners know it's a poop-friendly bin. Otherwise assume your neighbor doesn't want his or her can loaded up with your refuse.
Do you have additional suggestions of things that folks can resolve to do this year to make our communities better? Share them below in the comments section.