Communication Infrastructure for Change

This post is a response to a neighbor who posted the following question to her fellow neighbors on the app,

“Brainstorming ideas: Action instead of complaining. {Long post but looking for those engaged in their communities to chime in} For all my Detroit neighbors near and far in all districts let’s talk! I often see on this app many concerned residents (as it should be) post about issues in their community. The question I have for ALL of us is what are the resolutions? We can complain all day but what will actually bring about change for our neighborhoods?”

One of the things that is needed is to reinforce the communication infrastructure already in place and then leverage technology to make it easier and more effective to mobilize. We already have established neighborhood associations and block clubs. For the city of Detroit’s District 2 most of the larger neighborhood associations have Facebook pages. I would suggest all residents to encourage their neighbors to join Nextdoor and “like” their neighborhood association Facebook page. Then I would recommend all block clubs to identify themselves to their neighborhood association. This would allow us to establish a communication network that would get down to the individual resident. Now as for those residents would are not and will not adapt to and Facebook, I suggest that both the block clubs and neighborhood association have emails and/or phone numbers so those residents can be contacted.

Now why is strengthening this communication infrastructure so important?

1. We do not need to recreate the wheel. We often waste time and energy trying to create a new group. In some cases we have too many new groups that are small and don’t have longevity because of the energy needed to create/maintain a group. It also reduces the financial resources we need for our end goals. Think of it this way, it’s hard enough to gather block club dues and neighborhood association membership donations, so why create yet another group and water down the support for what is already in place?

2. Nothing gets a local politician’s attention like a well organized block club and/or neighborhood association. At first the politician is like a cat sniffing catnip when they encounter a strong, solidly organized, well supported neighborhood association because they see it as a campaign opportunity. However, this is when the neighborhood association should realize that they have the ability to reinforce how politics is suppose to work. Politicians must be re-educated that their role is to support and WORK for the neighborhood association, block club residents.

3. It all boils down to setting the agenda to how money and resource are managed. While collecting block club dues and neighborhood association fees is difficult, we all have contributed income and property taxes which represent a substantial amount of money. A neighborhood association and block clubs which has shown itself to be well established has the ability to influence and dictate to politicians the agenda of issues that require most monetary attention.

4. We need a network that allows residents to communicate together quickly to a) bring awareness of safety concerns quickly, b) discuss issues, c) to identify needs at the most local residential level.

Steps each person can do in order to rebuild this communication infrastructure NOW.

  • Invite neighbors to join Nextdoor. Within the app/website, there is an ability for each user to invite others via email, text, address book or selecting homes that Nextdoor will automatically send invite letters to.

  • “Like” your neighborhood association page on Facebook. Here are links to some of our nearby neighborhood association’s Facebook pages.

1. Schaefer 7/8 Lodge Neighborhood Association

2. Bagley Community Council

3. Winship Community Association

4. Sherwood Forest Association

5. University District Community Association

6. College Park Community Association

7. Greenwich Park Association

8. Greenacres Woodward Civic Association

9. Blackstone Park Neighborhood Association

This is not an exhaustive list. So if you have information on other neighborhoods association and/or block clubs please share that information.

Finally, leverage these resources to identify/communicate/ discuss neighborhood issues. I think we know what many of them are already. With a strengthen communication infrastructure we can then quickly and easily communicate when we need resident emails to be sent in mass to our local politicians regarding an issue. Just think of the statement it would make to city council and the mayor’s office if their offices received emails/texts/phone calls on a single day regarding one of these issues. They would take notice to the organizational strength we have established. We all understand that if residents work in numbers we can take action. This is just one suggestion that reinforcing our communication infrastructure can help us find the resolutions we all seek.

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