Thriving communities tend to share certain characteristics. Communities that are inclusive and encourage participation by all residents tend to thrive, as do those where there are opportunities to grow, both professionally and personally. Safety is another common component of thriving communities. When residents feel safe in their communities, they can feel free to pursue their goals, creating the sense that possibilities are endless.
According to the Pan Pacific Safe Communities Network, a membership-based, non-government organization that promotes safety in an effort to prevent injuries and violence, safety benefits communities in myriad ways. The PPSCN notes that safe communities see a reduction in the numbers and costs of injuries and violence and a promotion of community-wide health and safety, all the while instilling a sense of community pride.
Communities tend to be at their safest when all members pitch in to do their part. The following are some simple ways individuals can help make their communities safer.
• Make an effort to know your neighbors. According to SafeHome.org, an online resource that aims to assist consumers as they search for sensible security solutions for their homes, knowing one's neighbors is a great way to recognize when suspicious persons are in the area. This can serve as a safety net against burglaries and kidnappings.
• Install exterior lighting around your home and make sure street lamps are promptly fixed. Exterior lighting on the porch and around the perimeter of your home can make for an effective deterrent to intruders. Burglars look from dark spaces, so they're more likely to avoid well-lit properties than those under the cloak of darkness. Urge community leaders and companies, such as politicians and local energy providers, to promptly replace street lamp bulbs when they burn out. Street lamps make communities safer for children and pedestrians and can serve as deterrents to criminals just like lights around individual properties.
• Reinvigorate neglected areas. Abandoned parks and run-down public gathering spaces present an image of a community that does not care about itself. That can make communities seem like easy targets for criminals. Community members can join together via social media groups or more traditional grassroots efforts like door-to-door campaigning to collectively reinvigorate neglected areas within their communities. Organize park cleanups that culminate with a community barbecue, which can serve to clean up spaces and bring community members together.
• Spread the word. Individuals are essential to building safe communities, but that responsibility is community-wide. Spread the word of your efforts via social media, township meetings, community schools, and churches. Your actions may just inspire others to follow suit.
Building safe communities requires collective efforts on the part of all residents, who can then reap the many rewards of living somewhere safe.