27 May, 2013

Before Neighborhood Watch Can Protect You It Must Unify You

Since becoming the neighborhood watch coordinator for my ward I've learned that before a neighborhood watch can protect a neighborhood it has to first re-create that sense of neighborhood and community that we lost somewhere along the way. 

Nobody has told me how we lost it but we all agree that St. Albans has changed a lot since, say, the 50s.

According to St. Albans residents who lived here in the 50s, there was a time when everybody knew everybody, people didn't need to lock their doors and Andy Griffith was the sheriff. OK, I made that last part up. But in the reconstructed memories people have of a fictional, perfect, idyllic St. Albans, Andy Griffith could have been sheriff and St. Albans could have been Mayberry. Though I know his parents, Phil and Nancy Driggs, I don't know Jeff Driggs but I suspect he had this in mind when he called his restaurant "Mayberry's". This shrewd branding wouldn't work everywhere but it's custom made for a town that likes to think it was once a Mayberry.

I was born in the 50s and I moved to St. Albans the first time in 1962 so I can't comment on what St. Albans was like in the 50s except to say humans were never perfect so I know 50s St. Albans was not perfect.

But I don't doubt it had more sense of neighborhood and community in the 50s than it does now.

And that's why the first job of any neighborhood watch coordinator and any neighborhood watch block captain is to introduce themselves to their neighbors, introduce neighbors to neighbors and re-create a sense that we're in this thing together.
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