It’s one of the ironies of modern life that more people are crammed into many U.S. cities than ever before, and yet, fewer of us actually know our fellow crammers. Here is a sampling of ways to get to know them, and our neighborhoods, better.

National Night Out: Tuesday, August 6

National Night Out tells us that crime drops when neighbors know each other and look out for each other. To that end, this year’s National Night Out is on Tuesday, August 6. If you’re looking to meet your neighbors, that’s a good starting point: a national event specifically meant for it. The City of Oakland is involved with NNO’s 30th anniversary year, too, and multiple neighborhoods have organized events for that night.

One way to find out what’s going on in your neighborhood for this event is to visit the City’s Neighborhood Services site. NNO Oakland also has a Facebook page.

NCPCs and related resources

This Neighborhood Services site is also good for finding out about your NCPC (usually stands for “Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council,” although a few neighborhood organizations have changed theirs to things like “Neighborhood Coalition for Positive Change”).

Here‘s a map of various NCPCs with a little more explanation about how the police beats are grouped. Most NCPCs are neighborhood organizing committees that deal with a lot more than crime prevention, and meet monthly. This document says when and where those meetings occur.

The United Neighborhood Councils is also a good resource for connecting with these neighborhood groups. It has crime stats and personnel information, as well as links to specific sites and methods of contact — usually including a Yahoo! or Google group link for getting on an NCPC’s mailing list.

These mailing lists can be useful for discussing matters of concern to a specific neighborhood, getting to know neighbors, and staying informed and involved even if you can’t always make it to meetings. We here at Oakland Local are particularly impressed with how many fruitful collaborations between neighbors they foster, and how many lost pets have been reunited with their people because entire neighborhoods helped them. They’re an amazing resource, and much more effective than flyers on telephone poles.

Other community sites

A good way to find neighborhood groups that aren’t necessarily related to NCPCs is to look at your District site. From here, you can select your district (or scroll down to the bottom and find it), then for most districts, on the left-hand side of the page under the district’s number, click on “Neighborhood Groups.” These are generally by interest (libraries, parks, landmarks, clubs, organizations), but sometimes by specific neighborhood, too. In districts that don’t follow the template, links tend to be available fairly obviously, but if they’re not, just contact the district office and ask.

Another good resource for connecting electronically with close neighbors is Nextdoor. A number of local residents are using it in addition to other neighborhood listservs. It’s a bit more hyper-local and draws boundaries differently than the NCPCs.

Most neighborhoods also have Facebook pages and/or community websites — some of which are maintained by the NCPC, but sometimes by residents. Many of these websites will mention a Neighborhood Watch, Feet on the Street or similar neighborhood safety group if there is one. The Rockridge NCPC site is a great example. It says when the next meeting is, has a link to the Neighborhood Watch group, and even one to follow its designated PSO (Problem Solving Officer) on Twitter.

Crime reporting flows both ways

Even the Pope is on Twitter these days. It should surprise no one that the OPD is as well. Specific PSO contact information, including Twitter feed where possible, is available on well-organized sites. Neighborhood Services Coordinators can also tell residents who their PSOs are and what their Twitter handles are.

For reporting crimes, the OPD also uses Nixle: BFO 1 for West and North Oakland, and BFO 2 for East Oakland.

One Response

  1. Jen B-P

    Thanks for your article Carla. The email resources are great and very informative. For getting to know my neighbors better though, nothing beats a five to 10 minute conversation face to face. We all have a lot of fruit trees and backyard gardens, so we’re starting a fruit swap. We are fortunate to be living in one of those ‘may I borrow a cup of sugar?’ neighborhoods. It’s a sweet change from my past habit of parking my car in the driveway and ducking inside the house with just a wave and how are you to a neighbor across the street.

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