1.0 The Basics
1.1 What Is A Neighbourhood Association?
A neighbourhood association is a group of neighbours who work together to improve their quality of place by:
- organizing social events
- monitoring development proposals
- community clean ups
- protecting natural and built heritage
- increasing safety
- raising funds to improve parks, infrastructure, amenities, public art and more!
1.2 Why Start Or Join A Neighbourhood Association?
- Get to know more of your neighbours
- Improve parks and amenities in your neighbourhood
- Response to a crisis: New/different development proposals, natural or built heritage protection, school or local business closure
- Know what’s going on in your neighbourhood
- Connect with babysitters and other family supports
- Increase property values—people want to live in a strong neighbourhood!
- In case of future crisis, group is ready to respond and mobilize, rather than starting from scratch
- Neighbourhood can speak with a unified voice
- Give back to your community
1.3 Getting Started
Before You Start - Check this map and contact list to find out if you live in a neighbourhood that currently has an existing neighbourhood/community association. If you are in a pre-existing neighbourhood association, you may still want to start your own, depending on how active the group is in your area. Contact the group and inquire before you proceed.
Establish A Core Group- Getting started can be the most intimidating part but it doesn’t have to be! Don’t over think it, ask a neighbour for a coffee to talk about the idea. Keep doing this until you have 3 to 5 neighbours who are willing to commit to the group.
Hold The First Meeting - With the help of your Core Group, invite your neighbours to a meeting. Knock on doors, put up posters, use social media and give out flyers (see downloadable flyer template). For more help on how to hold effective meetings, see section 1.4 and 1.5.
1.4 First Meeting
The first meeting can be held at someone’s home or at a local faith based organization, library, school, community centre or restaurant. The London Public Library gives three meeting room rentals at no cost to new community groups.
What To Cover?
- Introductions — Who is there and why?
- Contacts — Be sure to collect names, emails, phone numbers and addresses by passing around a sign up sheet
- Assets — What makes your neighbourhood great?
- Issues — What parts of your neighbourhood could be improved?
- Boundaries — Where is your neighbourhood?
- Quick Wins — What could the group focus on in the short term? Examples include: Block Party, Community Clean up, Group Yard Sale, Welcome Wagon for new neighbours.
- Next Meeting — When and where will you meet next?
Where To Hold Your Meetings
- Around a kitchen table
- Library (ask about free room rentals)
- School (see guide to Renting Space at Schools)
- Faith Based Organization
- Community Centre
- Local restaurant/coffee shop
Schedule / Frequency
- When starting out it is recommended to meet monthly
- Some groups continue to meet every month and others meet only when a need arises
- You could meet every other month, once a quarter, twice a year or once a year depending on your activity level
- It is a good idea to establish a routine and stick with it (e.g. first Wednesday of the month)
Effective Meeting Tips
- Create an agenda (click here for a Sample Agenda)
- Pass around a sign-in sheet and ask for contact info
- Use name tags
- Include introductions and ice breakers (click here for examples)
- Assign a meeting facilitator to keep the discussion productive, focused, and moving forward.
- Assign a note taker and send out meeting notes to everyone after the meeting (see [meeting minute template, Appendix ii])
- Establish a decision making process (click here to see group decision options)
- Have fun!