First Neighbors Circle in Gaithersburg
Posted by frankieblackburn on May 10, 2009
Perhaps the most important goal of the Neighbors Campaign is to create new, sustainable networks of mutual support in targeted neighborhoods. One of the primary tools we use to spark these new networks is Neighbor Circles. As we door knock and invite people to attend a one time Neighbors Exchange, we are constantly on the lookout for residents willing to host a Neighbors Circle, a series of three gatherings over a simple meal in their home for 8 to 10 nearby neighbors. IMPACT Staff or Neighbors Campaign volunteers support residents in following a simple format to help people get to know each other. Time is devoted to identifying specific and concrete ways people can help each other, e.g. look after children while neighbor attends a job interview; pass along job possibilities; give neighbor a ride to metro stop; cook for a mother who is sick etc.
Patricia Rogers, who wears many hats in the Neighbors Campaign in Gaithersburg (Long time resident, Community Connector at the Neighborhood Service Center; Renter; Vista Organizer; Door knocker) is currently sponsoring the first Neighbors Circle in Gaithersburg in her apartment complex. See the short video clip below as she describes how she pulled off the first gathering and the extremely positive reaction she received from her neighbors. Below the video clip are her written words describing the “sweet spot” in community engagement.
The Sweet Spot
I am searching for the sweet spot in my community. This is a term coined by Richard Harwood in his book on “Make Hope Real: How We Can Accelerate Change for the Public Good”. Harwood writes, “the most promising pockets always seem to do two things at once: address a pressing public issue and build community. I call this the “sweet spot of public life”. Hosting a neighbor circle in my home made me realize the potential for creating the sweet spot in my community in Gaithersburg. While the potential exists, I somethings doubt whether it is possible. I struggle the most with how to building a community with the new friends I have made from my neighbor circle. How do I strengthen the relationships that I have made? What would the sweet spot look like in Gaithersburg? Impact has created the sweet spot in Silver Spring for nearly 10 years, so it just might be possible. I can’t wait to see it happen. I am not waiting, I am participating and the possibilities are endless, just imagine…