Associations Respond to Violence
"We live in a participatory society and it's been my goal to find a way for both myself and others to expand their participation," said Dan Cullimore, vice president of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association.
In Columbia alone, there are more than 60 neighborhood associations that allow homeowners to get more involved in their area's needs.
"The ideal is that neighbors bring concerns to the association which can then both disseminate information about that and also voice those concerns to city government, to officials, to the police department and then back to the neighborhood itself," said Cullimore.
"If you're standing by yourself, not too many people are going to listen to you," Bill Thompson of Douglass Park Neighborhood Association said. "But if you have a large group of people talking about the same thing, the powers that be are more inclined to listen and respond to your needs."
Crime prevention is often a specific need.
"The shooting and the publicity around that did make people more concerned about other disturbances that are going on," said Linda Rootes, president of North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association.
Residents on Alton Avenue have recently been arrested for assault, trespassing, crack dealing and even forgery. An increase in these crimes is why the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association thinks it's time for a neighborhood watch program.
"I think the activity on Alton reached a point where people became concerned enough that they were willing to do something," said Rootes.
The North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association did do something. It took on the issue as a group instead of letting it play out.
"We try not to shy away from things for the simple fact that basically people have to have a forum to discuss their feelings, express their feelings," said Thompson.
The city's neighborhood associations are not funded and are strictly voluntary.