Northfield’s National Night Out. What would you like to see for next year?

I only was able to visit Northfield’s National Night Out event for about 10 minutes yesterday.

National Night Out 2008
According to Sgt. Mark Murphy, it was well-attended all the way through to 8 pm.

The Nfld News article promoting the event ended with this sentence:

Murphy said the goal is to have residents host smaller neighborhood celebrations, a move which would allow more localized social gatherings and permit police to meet residents in their communities.

I’d like to see this happen. But how to organize it? By Ward/precinct? By neighborhood? By block/street/apartment building/townhouse association, etc?

3 thoughts on “Northfield’s National Night Out. What would you like to see for next year?”

  1. The best way to organize these kind of events is for neighbors to take the lead. Several years ago, when our neighborhood was half-built and we had experienced a couple of break-ins at unoccupied houses, the neighbors organized a block party so people could meet each other. It was mostly a social event with a potluck dinner but the police stopped by. (If I’m remembering correctly, the fire dept. brought a fire truck for the kids to see close up.) Chief Gary Smith gave a short talk about neighborhood watch and other safety issues and handed out pens that said “Stolen from the Northfield Police,” with contact numbers.

    It was a great way to ensure neighbors knew each other and that we all had correct information about the crimes that had occurred in our area. The break-ins stopped about the same time as the potluck, though I’m not sure one had anything to do with the other.

  2. Griff –

    You bring up an interesting topic, which I’m going to grab and run off in another direction.

    Organizing by Ward might make political sense, but considering how many highly intelligent people I’ve had ask me over the years “what Ward am I in”, dare I suggest 50%, I’m not sure they are meaningful to citizens.

    About a year or so ago, the Planning Commission discussed how there seems to be less neighborhood recognition in Northfield than in some other places we’d experienced. We wondered if it was due to our size – Northfield was small enough so that we were one big town instead of a number of distinctive neighborhoods.

    Although nobody suggested imposing names on neighborhoods, both Commissioners and staff members (and, in fact, one audience member, who is currenly running for City Council, so I won’t mention her name, in case someone might accuse me of advancing her interests) thought that their might be some benefits to establishing distinct neighborhood identities in Northfield.

    Okeh, I must be about 20 yards down the field already, maybe this merits a separate post…

    – Ross

  3. Was I the one who advocated establishing distinct identities? I’m the only female Council candidate who comments here, that I can think of…Although I’m running for the 2nd Ward Seat, I’d say a Ward is too big an area to attempt to organize even if folks do know which Ward they live in.

    I think our neighborhoods in Northfield organize themselves from the ground up in several, sometimes overlapping, ways:

      by street/block/intersection: my block had its 31st Annual Block Party recently–which is our block + our neighbors around the corners and up half a block or so – we invite former neighbors, too (once a neighbor, always a neighbor!). I know the Valley Drive area had a thing going – do they still? There are probably more examples.
      by park: park culture in Northfield is excellent and different parks draw different groups
      by school: elementary schools pull folks with school age children together.
      by neighborhood association: The Northfield East Side Neighborhood Association has an annual neighborhood party for the East Side (which extends roughly from Carleton south to 7th and from Prairie to Division (?).
      by coffeehouse: Many of us gather regularly at places like Good-bye Blue Monday (several of the Triumvirate may be there now), the Hideaway, James Gang and other local hangouts.

    As for creating neighborhood identity, I think Northfield’s new Comprehensive Plan includes policies which will help neighborhoods form. By striving for walkable neighborhoods, planning for public gathering places, and other human-scale, out of the car & house places, neighbors should find it easier to find each other and have places to meet. By trying to build life-cycle housing, we may help people to stay in the same area longer and build the sort of neighborhood memory that helps create a specific sense of place.

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