Officers gather at Ogawa Plaza before National Night Out 2008
By Nicole Vermeer
On Aug. 9, 2011, more than 29,000 people participated in about 550 National Night Out block parties throughout the city of Oakland.
This year, organizers of local Night Outs - whose purpose is to reduce crime, bring together neighbors and unite communities, all through the simple concept of a neighborhood block party - say the goal is to have more than 35,000 participants during the Aug. 7 celebration. And according to Claudia Albano, Neighborhood Services manager for the city, this is a crucial time for Oakland residents to sign up.
Those who register early can even receive a visit from city staff, in order to further discuss some of the issues facing your neighborhood. Those visits will occur from 7 to 9 p.m.
Oakland residents who register early to host an event also will receive tickets to an A’s game.
“We’re trying to create rapport between neighborhoods and local government,” Albano said.
Organizers say that bringing the neighborhood together for a block party can alleviate crime. For example, when neighbors know each other it is more likely that a resident can identify a suspicious person.
One of the goals of NNO is to build up communities; for example, setting up a carpool or a “walking school bus” for students to walk to school together. The city also suggests creating a sign up sheet that is a little more detailed than most; for example including a column for one’s career, hobbies or other skills, so you can find out which of your neighbors is a talented artist or a culinary master. Organizers say they hope that this could lead to neighborhood skill shares.
The city provides a document with other tips, for example, organizing games and activities for kids, or planning a street clean-up during the event. As always, National Night Out is from 7 to 9 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each August, in cities and towns across the country.
There’s no one way to not host a NNO block party - those living in condos, trailers or even high-rise apartments also are encouraged to create an event with their neighbors. Albano suggests those who are intimidated to start small.
“Every event is success. Even if you start with just three people this year, those events grow and maybe you’ll see 50 people in a few years," Albano said. "All we ask is that you do it outside.”
To sign up/register, visit http://gismaps.oaklandnet.com/nno/ or contact Brenda Ivey with the Oakland Police Department at (510) 238-3091. The deadline to register is 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 31.
Find more information at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/nno
National Night Out: http://www.nationaltownwatch.org/nno/