Houstonians Encouraged to Get to Know Their Neighbors
October 1, 2012
by: Gail Delaughter
Houston has observed the "National Night Out Against Crime" since 1985 and has won numerous awards for participation. Last year, about 55,000 residents took part in nearly 600 events, where they shared food, enjoyed live music, and talked about what's going on in their neighborhood. Houston Mayor Annise Parker says she's been attending those events ever since she got involved in public service.
"We know, that when we all know each other, when we know who belongs in our neighborhoods, what time we come and we go, who's supposed to be there and who's not, we're safer."
And Parker says when neighbors mingle in the streets and make connections, that can lead to something big.
"Interesting things happen quite beyond the public safety aspects when we all come together. Folks decide to work on a neighborhood improvement project. Folks decide to clean up something together or create a community garden. So National Night Out pays dividends in other ways."
But local officials admit that a lot of Houstonians don't even know who's living next door. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says it often takes something catastrophic, something on the level of Hurricane Ike, for neighbors to come together.
"You know, I'm kind of ashamed to admit, I don't know all of my neighbors. And we should, because there will be times of need. Sometimes the need can be relatively minor. Other times it can be very major."
So what makes a good neighbor? Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia talked about when he was house-shopping and was met by a neighbor who knew everyone's habits and who had lots of questions about who was moving in. He says that's the kind of person you want to get to know. But Garcia adds there's also another kind of neighbor you need to keep your eye on.
"You can know your neighbor who comes in and out at all hours of the night, doesn't want to associate with anybody else, doesn't want to participate in those positive community activities, and probably might be up to no good. Those are the neighbors that we need your help to eradicate out of our community."
Most cities hold their Night Out activities in August, but Houston's Night Out happens in October to take advantage of the cooler weather.
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