Neighborhood Watches are too focused on ... well ... watching. While I am the first to say we need to watch out for each other, I feel the Watch mentality is a little too restrictive in its base meaning. I'd like to open it up. here's what I suggest.
We seek to protect ourselves and our neighbors from crime, but what a great opportunity to expend our relationship with our neighbors. Many of us live in areasd where we have, or will, establish deep roots over time. Back a few decades ago this meant we knew our neighbors and invited them over for coffee or just to talk. These days with so many wide spread communication methods, i.e., the internet, cell phones, forums, families spread across the nation, etc., how are we are looking to those people 50 away in lieu of digital friends that might never be within range of a handshake? And, for better or worse, handshakes and the other face to face realities are hard wired into our psyche. They make up who we are and enhance our relationships in ways that the internet or phone calls never can.
So I'd like to encourage everyone to consider, along side neighborhood Watches, establishing other activites that incorporate those good folks around them. Christmas is coming up. How about a holiday social? A book club is a great addition to the neighborhood roster of fun things to do. For the young and energetic, a local free running club or whatever you and your neighbors are into.
Look, the choice is simple. We can continue to "live" behind closed blinds and through devices that make up our virtual world. Or we can invest a little time in getting to know the people (possibly the only people) we can turn to in a local crisis. Your FaceBook friends are not going to help you when you fall off your roof or lose your dog. So, invest in a neighborhood watch. And by that I mean, truly watch out for each other in positive life affirming ways. You'll be surprised how the dark elements of criminal life disappear from the light you cast on your very our main street.