10 September, 2013

The Most Controversial Aspect Of Neighborhood Watch: Meetings

No aspect of starting a Neighborhood Watch is more controversial than meetings - how to conduct them and when to hold them. 

Never cancel a Neighborhood Watch Meeting. In a previous post I said that Neighborhood Watch leaders have to be like Cortes burning his ships in the harbor. No turning back. Once you start holding meetings you can't ever cancel them. Remember, your skeptical, late adopting neighbors are waiting for you to fail and they are watching for signs that you are failing. Meeting cancellations say "We're not really committed to this."

If you discover that your meetings are held at a day and time when only a few people can come, then change the meeting day and time but don't ever cancel a meeting. If you were shopping for a church and the one you were considering occasionally just nailed a note to the door saying the Sunday meetings are cancelled, you'd stop attending, right? Same thing with Neighborhood Watch. When I encounter angry people who were early adopters in some previous Neighborhood Watch effort, they're usually mad because Neighborhood Watch meetings were cancelled - sometimes just an hour before the meeting. It happened to me twice and I was furious because, in both cases, I went out knocking on doors and inviting people to the meeting only to find when I arrived at the meeting place that the meeting had been cancelled. In both cases I hung around for a while to talk to anyone I invited. 

The first promise I made when I became the coordinator was that I would never cancel a meeting. 

No turning back. Once you start holding meetings, burn your ships in the harbor and show the neighborhood that you are not going away.

What to do at meetings? Some Neighborhood Watch groups always have "special speakers". Some have guest speakers occasionally. Some Neighborhood Watch groups use meetings for training .e.g., how to recognize drug activity or how to secure your home and property. And then these various groups criticize each other because they don't hold the same kinds of meetings.

I don't think it matters so much what you do at your meetings as much as it matters that you regularly get people together in the same room and get them interacting with each other and encouraging each other and building the sense of community without which you'll never have an effective Neighborhood Watch.

And there's no rule that Neighborhood Watch meetings must be held weekly or monthly. There's also no rule that meetings must be formal or informal. 

My own Neighborhood Watch meetings occur at 6:30PM  the first Tuesday of each month in a church fellowship hall. At the 6:30 hour we may be competing with supper so I've wondered if we shouldn't either (A) change the meeting time or (B) combine supper and neighborhood Watch meeting. We'd need the permission of our host and we'd need some money for food and we'd need volunteers to prepare and serve food and clean up the church kitchen afterwards. I'd like to try it. Few things get people interacting and bonding like sharing a meal.

Higginbotham At Large reads all submitted comments but only publishes comments from clearly identified submitters. No Ring of Gyges for you.

KKeywords: Nitro, WV, West Virginia, Saint Albans, St. Albans, Dunbar, Charleston, Kanawha, Speaker bureau, speakers bureau, speaker's bureau, speakers' bureau, guest speaker, 25177, 25143, 25303, 25309, 25301, 25302, 25305, 25311, 25314, 25304, neighborhood watch, animal rights, animal welfare, no-kill, shelters, 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Only identified commentators will be published. No pseudonymous or anonymous comments will be published. "Handles" and "screen names" are pseudonyms. If you wish to comment, you need to identify yourself or your comment will not be published.