What Kind of Things Can I and My Neighbors Do to Make Our Block Safer?
While this list is not all inclusive, it may help you find projects that are the right fit for your issues. Always remember to include your local police in projects to address criminal activity in order to increase your chances of successfully addressing the problem.
Conduct a neighborhood canvas
The purpose of the canvass is to identify not only issues around your block that may need to be addressed, but also to identify resources, such as businesses, libraries, parks and community organizations, that can help your block club implement projects. When canvassing the area around your block, also talk to other residents to find out if there are other block clubs in the area that may be interested in doing joint projects.
Organize a neighborhood clean-up
Criminals are attracted to neighborhoods that appear dirty or unkempt. Regular clean-ups will deter criminal activity by bringing people out and visible on the street. The City, through the Clean and Green program, can loan your block club tools throughout the year to help you keep your block looking good. You can also use this as a way to meet all the neighbors on your block and get them involved.
Organize an alley numbering project
Alley numbers help speed response from police, fire and paramedics who under certain circumstances may need to respond through the alley. Alley numbers may be provided to groups by your local police district through a grant provided by the Allstate Foundation. 44th Ward residents can pick up complimentary garage address numbers at the 44th Ward Office!
Establish a phone tree
A phone tree can provide a means for neighbors to first call 911 to request the police when a crime occurs and to then communicate among themselves. A phone tree lists residents according to their address and can be a rapid communication and reporting system for the block club.
Organize a neighborhood resource day
One good way to keep neighbors involved and active is to provide them with new information about programs around the City. The City of Chicago’s Speakers Bureau can provide speakers from various City Departments on a wide range of programs. Other suggestions for speakers could include local health service providers to provide information on health and nutrition topics or local hardware stores to provide home improvement tips.
Work on problem buildings
One bad building can ruin a whole block; one bad store can ruin a whole neighborhood, but you and your neighbors can help make a real difference when it comes to problem buildings. By working with police and other City Departments, you can help hold landlords or store owners accountable for criminal or nuisance activity that may be occurring on their property.
Start a neighborhood garden
Beautification efforts make the neighborhood more pleasing for everyone and, again, are a deterrent to crime. Gardens could be planted on vacant lots, in the parkway or in traffic circles. You might also consider a vegetable garden, allowing all the neighbors to share the fresh produce throughout the summer. Don’t forget-recruit young people in your neighborhood to help maintain and care for the garden. The City can provide training and assistance to groups who want to start a garden through the Greencorps program.
Become a Court Advocate
Often criminals go free because victims and witnesses are afraid to go to court. By volunteering with your Police District’s court advocacy group, you can provide vital support to victims and witnesses. Attending court or administrative hearing proceedings also shows judges that the community is concerned about an issue and visibly demonstrates the impact crime has on you and your neighbors.
Block parties are a Chicago tradition throughout the summer, but you don’t have to confine your celebrations to just one day. Smaller events can be easily organized throughout the year.