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How To Become A Neighborhood Activist

Finding ways to manage traffic patterns is a popular issue among neighborhood activists.

Finding ways to manage traffic patterns is a popular issue among neighborhood activists.

Traffic in your neighborhood has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks to the new, expanded hours of your local merchant around the corner. Cars race down your street, vying for parking spots and jeopardizing public safety. Two accidents have occurred at the intersection in just the last month. You’re afraid to let your children play out in front.

How do you get your elected representative to notice?

It seems simple enough. Your “elected” serves you, the voter, and should give you her attention when you ask for it. Right?

Not so fast.

Lots of constituents have pressing issues, not to mention all of the special interests roaming the halls of government.

No doubt your “elected” will feel your pain, but will he do anything about it. If you’re a party of one, probably not.

Becoming a Neighborhood Activist

Your first step in your new role as a neighborhood activist is to figure out who’s in charge.

Which department is responsible for traffic and safety and installing stop signs? Is it the Department of Public Works? Is it Planning? Does the Police Department have a say? And what influence does your elected have over all of this?

Next, build your coalition and expand your outreach.

Talk to your neighbors. Ask them to sign your petition. You have one, don’t you?

Get the homeowner’s association on board. Talk to their leadership, attend their meeting and ask for their support. Find other potential neighborhood activists and Build your executive team.  You’re going to need help attending and speaking at meetings and circulating petitions. And that’s just the beginning.

Reach out to the Greater Neighborhood Association, which serves a number of homeowners’ associations, and ask if their members will adopt a resolution in support of your project. But be prepared to write the resolution yourself.

Consider other partners. Is your issue impacting your local school and church? Contact these organizations and ask for their help.

Have you met with the local police captain and reviewed the traffic safety records in your area? Is there an opportunity for your captain to provide expert testimony?

Build Momentum

As you build momentum, consider a Facebook page where you ask your newfound neighborhood activists as well as all stakeholders to “like” your page, which will feed them updates through social media. Have you contacted the neighborhood paper? The editor could prove a valuable ally in your mission.

It takes a village to implement change.

After you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to meet with the decision makers. But don’t expect overnight results. Reports will be filed, studies taken and costs and benefits analyzed. The wheels of government turn slowly.

But if your idea for a stop sign prevents accidents and saves just one life, your hard work will have been worth your time and commitment.

We Need You!

So get engaged. We need more people like you, neighborhood activists, who care about our community and will invest in making it a better place.

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About the Author:
FX Crowley is a Public Affairs and Labor Relations Specialist, and former 15-year Business Manager of IATSE Local 16, San Francisco. A third-generation San Franciscan, FX can break down any football game from Pop Warner to the Pros and analyze it for hours. Contact to learn more ››