When we came together to form Carmel Neighbors, we were working to help all of us in Carmel get through the Coronavirus pandemic and ensure that the most vulnerable members of our village received the help they needed. As we worked together, we realized that neighborhoods in which the neighbors knew each other and had contact information which they shared with each other had a head start on looking out for each other under any circumstances, from a pandemic to a natural disaster or a power outage. It has been a pleasure to watch neighborhoods in Carmel began to organize, and we’re hoping to see this program spread all across our remarkable village.
- HOW DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?
What we’ve done is define neighborhoods in a natural way, depending upon the layout of the streets. In some parts of Carmel, there is a natural grouping of houses which form a neighborhood. On the grid streets and numbered avenues, we’ve defined a neighborhood as one or two linear blocks, both sides of the street. For each neighborhood, there’s a neighborhood coordinator, and, ideally, a co-coordinator. They contact their neighbors to find out if they’d like to participate in sharing contact information with the other neighbors, and then they put together a list to circulate among the neighbors who want to participate. The list isn’t shared with anyone other than the people in that neighborhood, and none of the contact information is provided to anyone who doesn’t live right there in the neighborhood.
- WHY DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?
Neighbors for Neighbors works because it creates a network of communication and mutual support without invading privacy, and it lets each neighborhood naturally find what works best for the people who live there. Some neighborhoods have just created a list of contact information to help neighbors get in touch with each other and some have organized block parties and resource sharing lists which indicate which neighbors have a generator for charging cell phones during a power outage, a chainsaw, or other things they’d be willing to share. It’s completely up to each neighborhood. The most important thing is that the neighbors understand that whatever contact information they provide will NOT be shared beyond the neighborhood. The neighborhood lists will not be provided to Carmel Neighbors or distributed in any way other than as the neighbors have agreed. Some people are happy to have their contact information circulated to all of the neighbors, but a few are more comfortable if only the neighborhood coordinator has the information.
- HOW CAN CARMEL NEIGHBORS HELP?
If you’d like to volunteer to be a coordinator in your own neighborhood, we can help. We have a “starter kit” which can help you get in touch with your neighbors and begin to build your neighborhood. We can also put you in touch with other people who’ve organized their own neighborhoods and can share tips and pitfalls. We think that this program has been a great success, and it’s been great to watch it catch on and begin to spread. If you’re interested in being part of Neighbors for Neighbors, contact Carmel Neighbors volunteer coordinator Wanda Vollmer at email@example.com, and she’ll help you get started.