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The City of New Orleans

Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu

Resources for neighborhoods

How to form a neighborhood association

1. Start with a core group

Start your neighborhood association by finding a core group of people. Ask neighbors you already know and ask those neighbors to also speak to other neighbors. Once you have a good number of people interested, schedule a meeting at a central location, such as a school, church, or community center in the area. Set up the meeting quickly so people don't lose interest.
 
 The core group should agree on ground rules for meetings, such as:
  • Try to attend every meeting
  • Act for the benefit of the group
  • Be polite and make constructive comments
  • Treat other members with respect
  • Discuss issues and concerns, not personalities
  • Accept group decisions after a vote has been taken

2. Set the neighborhood boundaries

It’s important to determine the boundaries of your neighborhood association. Boundaries might be roads, residences within a certain distance of a neighborhood landmark, or a community facility. You can take a look at a neighborhood map or take a community stroll to identify boundaries for the neighborhood association. It's a good idea to check with your Councilmember or the Mayor's Neighborhood Engagement Office to see if your boundaries include any existing neighborhood associations, as you may want to partner with the existing group on common problems.
 
Once you have set the boundaries, establish a list of households in the area. This list will help you get more neighbors involved in the association and its activities. You may need to go door to door to obtain this list.

3.Identify problems and develop a neighborhood plan

A neighborhood plan will help your neighborhood association make decisions and take action. First, create a neighborhood inventory. An inventory is a collection of facts about the neighborhood, including information on residents, types of homes, area businesses, churches, and schools.
 
After gathering your inventory of the neighborhood, identify a few problems, concerns or desires. (Problems can be identified by hosting a meeting where neighbors can share concerns.) Problems and concerns typically addressed by neighborhood associations may include crime, physical improvements, traffic, street lights, preserving unique features of the neighborhood, zoning concerns, or meet and greet for neighbors.
 
The plan should include:
  • The reason the association was formed
  • The principles that will guide the association and its work
  • When and how often the members will meet
  • How meetings will be conducted
  • The goals and outcomes of the neighborhood association
  • An action plan for accomplishing the goals set by the neighborhood association

4. Establish Committees

Some neighborhood associations work well when divided into committees. The core group should be responsible for determining what those committees are, how many are needed, and the goals of the committees.

 

Examples of committees Possible duties
By-laws committee
  • Determine how the association will conduct meetings and votes
  • Making decisions to resolve disagreements among members about procedures
Crime reduction committee
  • Works with police to educate residents on crime prevention
  • Helps organize block watch programs
Green committee
  • Organizes neighborhood clean-ups
  • Works with the City on recycling, green strategies
  • Organizes tree plantings and beautification projects

Example of a committee action plan:

Problem Rising burglary rate
Committee Crime Reduction Committee
Goal Reduce the number of burglaries and overall crime in the neighborhood
Resources Police sub-stations, NOPD Quality of Life officers,  other appropriate city departments
Strategies
  1. Form a Block Watch group for every block.
  2. Have at least two residents from each block meet with NOPD representatives for proper training on block watch safety.
  3. Contact the Mayor's Neighborhood Engagement Office to inquire about other neighborhood-based solutions working in other neighborhoods.

 

How to become an official organization with the State of Louisiana

Although it is not required to be a registered neighborhood organization, the Mayor's Neighborhood Engagement Office recommends that all neighborhood organizations register with the Louisiana Secretary of State.  Legally filing with the State helps create accountability and provides the mechanism for establishing a permanent bank account in the name of the association rather than in someone's private name (which in turn helps with record keeping).  To do this, one must download and complete the Articles of Incorporation on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website . There is a small fee associated with filing this document, but it is the first legal step in creating a legally organized association. This allows a neighborhood organization to become an official entity recognized by the State of Louisiana, with the known benefits of any legal entity, such as opening a checking account after getting a state and federal tax ID number. 

If you have more questions regarding this matter, feel free to e-mail us at neighborhoods@nola.gov.

 

How to hold meetings

Plan the meeting

People will be more likely to attend meetings if they are organized, brief, useful, and in a convenient location. Set the time, date, and location by consulting with the core group of members. Plan the meeting to last no longer than one to two hours.

Pick a location that is centrally located and familiar to your neighbors, and then remind them of the time and date by email, phone call, flier, or letter. Before the meeting begins, arrange the tables and chairs and have all handouts and resource materials available at the entrance of the room. Don’t forget a sign-in sheet so that you will be able to keep all information up to date and keep new members involved.


Set the agenda

All meetings should have an agenda. The agenda lists the order of business at the meeting, including committee reports.

Example of a typical agenda:

  1. Call to order - the President (as designated by the neighborhood association) will call the meeting to order. This person would also act as the meeting facilitator and offer opening remarks. 
  2. Reading / reminder of previous discussions - if minutes were kept from previous meeting, those minutes should be read aloud to the association. This could serve as a refresher of the topics at hand. 
  3. Reports from committee members - a designated person from each committee should be prepared to report on the progress of the committee’s goals and objectives. The individual should allow discussion or feedback from the entire group. Make sure each reporting committee member keeps debate time to a set amount of time. 
  4. Unfinished or new business - the President asks for new ideas or topics and opens the floor for discussion. Discussion should be limited to a set amount of time.
  5. Announcements - in most occasions this is an opportunity for non-profits, city departments, or other agencies involved in the neighborhood association to speak. Next meeting date, time, and location should be announced. 
  6. Adjournment - the President adjourns the meeting.

 

Publicity

Communication is very important to the success of your association. Sharing information is a great way to build a sense of community in your neighborhood, get to new people to join your association and enlist support for your events.

Here are some ways to get the word out:

  • Publish a neighborhood association newsletter regularly.
  • Announce your meetings and events in weekly area newspapers, in schools, church, and club newsletters.
  • Distribute fliers door to door.
  • Distribute a neighborhood survey.
  • Ask local businesses to place fliers or posters in their businesses.
  • Send letters or emails to all within the neighborhood boundary.
  • Call or email the Mayor's Neighborhood Engagement Office  to place your meeting on their public calendar.

 

Leadership: finding and sustaining it

Part of the neighborhood organization's responsibilities is to identify and develop neighborhood leaders. People in leadership positions are responsible for coordinating activities of a group, including activities designed to help the group achieve its goals and to help members stay involved and feel good about working together.

It is important for leaders to involve all group members in the decision-making process and to be sure everyone is heard before the group votes on an action or makes a decision. The qualities of good leaders include flexibility, the desire to listen and consider the opinions of others, the ability to clearly state goals and expectations, and willingness to acknowledge the contributions and achievements of other individuals. Part of being a leader is helping others to grow.

 

Develop leaders Avoid leader burnout
Search for more than one or two leaders within the community Delegate responsibility; some leaders have better strengths than others
Encourage people to switch tasks and discover their strengths Break-up big jobs into small parts and assign different tasks
Remind members to be open to change; bring in new members with fresh ideas Encourage younger individuals to participate in leadership roles
Encourage people to communicate in a positive and productive manner Focus on the goals and achievements, not the conflict in personalities

 

Capacity training opportunities

Several organizations in New Orleans also offer capacity training for neighborhood organizations, for services such as community organizing, leadership training, workshops, events, grant applications, and various other opportunities. The following are three non-profits that offer capacity training:

 

When members disagree

Neighborhood associations, like any group of people, can run into problems with personality conflicts, burnout, and leadership issues. When problems occur, encourage an open and respectful discussion among members, make sure the discussion does not become a meeting of personal attacks, and try to guide the group toward a positive outcome.

Some people try to avoid dealing with conflict because it makes them uncomfortable and some people try to approach conflict as if they were in a battle and are determined to win. It is best to resolve conflict immediately so it won’t damage personal relationships or the association. Interestingly, disagreements among association members can be an opportunity for growth, change, and new understanding.

 

 
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Last updated: 10/30/2013 2:37:28 PM

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