In Kalamazoo, Michigan, citizens of all ages are engaging each other to create and maintain safe and active neighborhoods.
"It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes the vision and determination of its residents to make that village. Residents in Kalamazoo's neighborhoods are working hard to make life safe, enjoyable and beautiful for all -- and they are doing it through their own initiative, as Jay Walljasper suggests in his book, "The Great Neighborhood Book."
For example, Eastside neighborhood residents recently discouraged youth from loitering and selling drugs on an East Main Street corner by letting it be known that they were taking back their neighborhood. They did this by regularly patrolling the corner, picking up trash, and persuading business owners not to allow kids to loiter because it would hurt their businesses.
If residents knew the youth or their parents, they talked to them. If residents didn't know the youth, they got to know them, asked them about their interests, and found out why they were loitering.
'The residents felt pride in their accomplishment,' said Pat Taylor, executive director of the Eastside Neighborhood Association. 'But they did not delude themselves into thinking that the job was done.' The experience did give them confidence to solve other problems in the neighborhood, like giving teenagers something to do through the Summer Employment Program."