Tuesday, April 07, 2009

April Is 'Walk Your Neighborhood' Month

What's Going On In Your Community? Walk Your Neighborhood And Find Out

Spring. A time of renewal -- for flowers, trees, people, and, yes, even communities.

A great time to get outside, clean up the yard, aerate the front lawn, lay down that organic weed control and fertilizer, and see what's happening around your town.

Do you know what's going on down the block, let alone on the Avenue or along the Turnpike? Has a streetscape been improved, a park beautified? Has "Main Street" become a more pedestrian-friendly place to shop and to stroll? Is your neighborhood "walkable?"

Well, you'll never know if you don't put your sneakers on, get out there, and, quite literally, walk your neighborhood.

The Community Alliance has designated April as 'Walk Your Neighborhood' Month, a time to take a closer look at the good, the bad, the blighted, and the revitalized in your own hometown, to reflect on what has changed -- for better or for worse -- and what has not, since this time, last year, and to take action (i.e., organize a park clean up or a neigborhood watch, or simply contact your local councilmember) to make your neighborhood a great place.

What makes a neighborhood great? Well, for starters, you should read The Great Neighborhood Book, a publication of our friends at Project for Public Spaces, the folks who, by their own accord and ours, engage in building community and creating places using that which most planners seem to lack -- common sense.

Of course, there's nothing like neighborhood in the first person. Hitting the street, breathing the fresh air (or holding your breath along the Turnpike), seeing what is, and visualizing what could be.

Is your neighborhood pedestrian-friendly, eco-centric, inviting in both design and appearance, accessible, sustainable, with plentiful open, green space? Or, is your neighborhood a congested, automobile-centric, hodgepodge, where just crossing the street means taking your life in your hands, and taking the car to buy a newspaper or a quart of milk is not a choice, but a necessity? [Think the Roosevelt Raceway redevelopment.]

Are we creating and promoting community living at its finest in Long Island's many and varied neigborhoods, or fostering a sprawling isolationism, where the bonds of community are broken and destroyed?

These are but of few of the questions you should be asking yourself, your elected representatives, and those who serve on planning boards, zoning boards, and civic boards alike, as you Walk Your Neighborhood in the days and weeks ahead.

Like what you see? Or could things be better along the streets, avenues, and boulevards of your hometown? What's your neighborhood's "walk score?"

Write to The Community Alliance at thecommunityalliance@yahoo.com. Tell us what you see as you Walk Your Neighborhood, that which could be better, or, perhaps, even great.

Together, we can make a difference!

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