Neighbourhood Support - World Leading Community Perspective?
Interviewed by Tim Lynch | August 30, 2007
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New Zealand towns and cities are still based on an urban house on a plot of land, there is still an opportunity for all home dwellers to connect at
street level - as neighbours.
In St Mary's Bay, a micro suburb in Auckland, NZ there emerged a mutation to the concept of Neighbourhood Support.
Where instead of peeping and spying at your neighbour, on their visitors and what went on in your street, it was encouraged that 'we support our neighbour'
by getting to know them better, talking with each other more often - opening dialogue - this way there would be more social intercourse where we extended
our friendships to a wider expanding circle.
Its concept was supported by the large insurance company NZI - New Zealand Insurance, (now bought out) and the local police constable was also integral
to how the system worked.
Unfortunately, it didnt make it as a workable universal model, as the challenge was to obtain a volunteer to be a willing active street coordinator. However, here is an extension that could be a blue- print for the new emerging paradigm of social consciousness.
The aim is simple:
1) Divide your borough into Sectors of quadrants of about 25 streets, roads, and avenues.
2) Select a representative to speak for your street or section of Street. If your Street has hundreds of houses, then divide the street up to say a maximum
of 35 houses/apartments, per Street Co ordinators
3) The carrot to bring these Street coordinators on board would be to offer them a discount or rebate on their annual housing/property rates.
4) Their job would be to liaise with every house-hold representative in the street. Where they would introduce themselves and tell them that you are there
to support them by being a liaison between them, the local council, as well as the police.
They explain to the house occupier that they write up the names of all those occupants in the house, take their phone number and advise them that if there
is any pressing matters that effect them in the street, that every 1, or 2 months (to be decided by council) they (along with other Street Coordinators
in the local area) will meet with the authorities to brief them of what is happening in your street. You don’t have to
give the names of the people over to anyone outside that Street. It remains with the St Coordinator. (Yes their is privacy requirements around this.)
You may also impress upon them security needs, when going away i.e have someone pick up their mail every day, leaving different low energy lights on in
different rooms at night, etc plus anything relating to health and safety. Maybe offer them a DVD on home and street security, or discuss a w.w.web
site devoted to this subject.
Finally when the Street / Road Coordinators go as a group to the local council offices they gather in front of councillors, the local police constable
and possibly the Deputy Mayor and each St Coordinator is asked to give a 2 to 3 minute synopsis of what’s happening on their respective street.
Items that could be covered are:
Need for more judder bars to curtail speeding.
A need for a rubbish bin at the end of the street where, there maybe is a park/ beach etc.
That the street needs better cleaning, of debris etc.
Removal of graffiti from walls etc
That there were either no burglaries or a burglary / assault that happened on such a such a date. And what resulted.
If there was a house fire.
This meeting would possibly last for a total of one and a half to two hours. At the end of this time the Councillors, Mayor and Police would have a fairly
comprehensive understanding of what’s happening throughout the community and suburb.
The above is a frame work, a blueprint with what we can possibly do to enable a peaceful system of 'Neighbourhood Support' to be active nationwide.
This Neighbourhood Support concept needs central Govt and local Govt support.
And depending on how organised everyone in the street is, as well as how much time the St coordinator has, you could have a Street party, especially
at Christmas where carols were sung, or the Salvation Army came and played music.
Where we were at St Mary's Bay, we had a small park where we had Guy Fawkes celebration (of all ghoulish things) with bonfire and crackers for the kids,
and parents would bring snacks and drinks and it was an opportunity to get to know your neighbours. We even had the neighbourhood men get together
to plant a good number of daffodil bulbs in the corners of the park and they are still bursting forth every spring in increasing numbers.
As the neighbourhood representative of our street Yarborough St a very small street, I myself even went as far as producing my own news ‘broad sheet’ which
I printed off for those in the street. It was an enjoyable public spirited fun thing to do for a couple of years.
The concept of Neighbourhood Support is an idea whose time has come, especially with climate change and social dysfunctionality becoming more prevalent
in our society. The need to cooperate for our common survival will become paramount!
Note that it was the public spirited NZ owned New Zealand Insurance Company who gave the 'seed money' to start this off.
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Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'