A Citizen's Handbook

As a model of what community organizing might be, here's a handbook from Vancouver:

The Citizen's Handbook - Practical assistance for those who want to make a difference 


Anonymous said…
(hopefully the administrator will not delete this posting as I would like to see how others feel about this issue.)

For those who want to make a difference...well lets see. For starters how about getting to know your neighbors. As a previous resident of Lake Sarasota with a parent who still lives there I have noticed a great decline in many aspects of the community.

A few years ago we were going through a hard time as a family. Did any of our neighbors reach out and ask if we were okay? NO. Instead we received letters telling us how trashy and disrespectful we were. Not only were we embarrassed about what was going on it was made worse by those around us.

We came together as a family but definitely not as a community.

I say this because part of being a citizen is asking those that look like they may need help if they are okay before you make them feel like crap and unable to ask for help.

And a recent letter discussing yard conditions in Lake Sarasota and people trying to sell their foreclosed homes...I don't know if anyone else received it or if it was aimed at only one home BUT to be honest, yards do not bring down property values as much as people buying houses for way too much money and not being able to pay their bills.

bottom line is Lake Sarasota never felt like a community to me when I lived there. It felt more like a lower middle class neighborhood trying to be an upper class neighborhood. nothing wrong with having pride in your community but watch how you show it to others.
Anonymous said…
I have to agree with Anonymous. My family, too has gone through hard times, but, with the exception of our nearest neighbors who are very nice people, all we got was a nasty letter citing shabby appearance.

It would have been so much nicer if someone had bothered to chat for a while and see what was going on with us. They would have found out that a sudden and devastating illness took our breadwinner out of the job market permanently. Gee, maybe someone might have even offered to (gasp!) help.

We have lived peacefully with our neighbors for a long time, and then some new, less kind blood moved in here. They spent too much for a cheap little home in a high crime area. We spent a great deal of time making sure our children were occupied with sports to keep them from mingling with the arsonists and gang members here. The neighborhood improved somewhat when the arsonist/thieves moved away. I feel sorry for those who felt they had to buy at such outrageous prices and who are now in trouble. Too bad they never checked with the sheriff to see what the crime rate is here before they spent a fortune on a shoebox home.

I wish we could sell our place and leave this neighborhood, but with all these foreclosures, that is out of the question. We are stuck here for the time being.

By the way, half of the neighborhood does not have deed restrictions. Did you know that? Guess what: we like not having deed restrictions. We like not having a homeowners association.
This is just a preliminary response to both commenters:

I've asked several of our more active volunteers whether they were able to pin down what letter you refer to. No one could identify it - can you help by telling us who sent it, the date, and the contents? If you like, you can forward the info to lakesarasota@gmail.com - thanks.

The more we know, the better this can be addressed - but for the record, the Lake Sarasota Community Group is a loose band of volunteers - no deed restrictions, no dues, no paid salaries.

Our next meeting is Tuesday, July 14, 7 pm at Sarasota Baptist Church - we'd welcome your input then as well.
Anonymous said…
I can't speak for everyone who is unhappy, but I know that many residents in this neighborhood received notices from the county regarding real or imagined code violations. We received a notice, as did some of my neighbors. The county stated in their letter that they had verified these code violations, but that was not true. In our case, there were no code violations, and it was clear that no one in the county actually bothered to verify anything at all. When we contacted the county, they seemed to be unconcerned and told us to ignore the notice.

In any event, I could not produce this letter for you, as it was destroyed.

It was disturbing to learn that somewhere along the line, a new, unfriendly element had moved into the neighborhood. Having lived in this neighborhood for 30 years, minding my own business, it is hard for me to understand anyone who has the time and the desire to pry into my personal affairs and photograph my personal property. According to the county employee we spoke to, more than a hundred of these notices went out into our neighborhood. Clearly, someone needs to get a life.
Anonymous said…
Dear Anonymous,
I understand your lament over 'hard times' ~ many are facing various difficulties at this time. Lake Sarasota contains over 1500 homes. There will certainly be a variety of dynamics in such a large community. I have lived here since 1996 on a street where neighbors exhibit a genuine concern for each other. Many parts of Lake Sarasota share this character. Yes, it would be wonderful if LSCG, or any other organization, could somehow transform the whole community to be that way. Maybe with enough involvement, this could be a reality. However, it takes each individual playing their part to make this happen. Sadly, many individuals can barely focus on their own problems and needs, let alone the problems and needs of their neighbors. Regarding those whom may have paid way too much for their homes, please remember that they didn't buy them with the plan that their value would go down. The appearance of a home and yard does have a great deal of impact on the value of that home and the homes around it.

My suggestion would be this: If anyone out there has a desire to make a difference and sees the need for our community to reach out more to neighbors, than please get involved in our group or start a new one. In fact, we have been discussing how we could reach out to neighbors in need during the holidays. We would love to have your input in this regard. Please come to one of our meetings with some positive ideas.

Lake Sarasota Community Group organized as a non-profit entity to bring about positive change in our community and is NOT a homeowners association. We have intentionally kept our distance from trying to enforce any restrictions as this is not a deed-restricted community. Such letters as referred to were not sent by LSCG and sound as if they could have been handled in a much more pleasant and diplomatic way. While we have endeavored to enhance the beauty of Lake Sarasota, we are not out to control individual home owners. Our focus for these projects has been on the medians, the park, and the entrances (for obvious reasons). While these areas are still in need of more work, they are certainly better than they were 3 years ago (new entrance signs at Mauna Loa, re-furbished entrance at Westminster, new trees in medians, etc). We have also sponsored a "Yard of the Month" program to encourage residents who are able to improve the appearance of their yards to do so. Please remember those involved in LSCG are all volunteers, using our precious time and resources to bring about positive changes in our community. We want to encourage others to do the same and welcome the assistance and ideas to make this happen. We encourage those who attend the meetings with great ideas and concerns to 'champion' those ideas and bring them to fruition.
Thank you for taking the time to post an important concern.
Laura Mathis

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