Highlights from June 28th WSBWCN meeting (& imminent deadline to note!)

Last night’s meeting was great with lots of participation! Here are a few highlights for those of you who missed it.

Yun Pitre from Dept of Neighborhoods explained to the group about how Small Sparks grants could be obtained & used for Night Out events. However, the deadline is fast-approaching! The application deadline is June 30th (tomorrow!), but she noted that attendees should log on to their website, http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/nmf/, to register right away. This is because it may take 1-2 days for the registration login to become active in their system & that needs to be in place in order to create the grant proposal & submit it. Typically, a Small Sparks grant request takes 6 weeks to process; she said that DON has agreed to accept grant requests for Night Out events even though the timeframe is less than that…but they do need to be in by the 30th.

The grant funds can be used for expenses such as food, utensils, music/entertainment, tents, games/prizes & other things that clearly contribute to community building. There are a few restrictions; the funds can’t be used to purchase alcohol & only 20% of the funds can be used for food. The neighborhood will need to contribute “matching funds” to the project with volunteer hours or other items.

Grants of up to $1000 can be requested, but those that are above $599 will need to have a fiscal sponsor. Kelly McKinney from Seattle Neighborhood Group offered that those in need of fiscal sponsorship should contact SNG.

The rest of the meeting was spent in discussion about various ways that neighborhoods can make Night Out events successful. Crime Prevention Coordinator, Mark Solomon, shared some stories about successful events that he’s visited. He also explained some of the basics for those thinking about hosting a Night Out event for the first time. Several people at the meeting said they were planning their first Night Out, although they have had a Blockwatch for years.

Music was discussed, both pros and cons. Be sensitive about volume and time of evening; consider un-plugged music. If possible, locate the band where it won’t bother those who may not be attending.

Most groups seem to have people bring potluck items to share; some groups let people bring whatever they wish, others try to organize it so that people bring specific items & they don’t end up with too many desserts (is that even possible?) or any other item.

Some neighborhoods shared details about games. Several groups use trivia games to break the ice, such as having nametags that also describe interests or something that people may not know about you.  We distributed a “Neighbor Bingo” game that Kelly Kirkand created for her Night Out event & emailed to us to share.

Attractions at Night Out events are popular. Suggestions included Bouncy Houses or face-painting for kids, egg races. One person mentioned after the meeting that they have a water-balloon game; it involves tossing & catching the balloons in beach towels as opposed to hurling them at the attendees.

Inviting Police/Fire is also popular, as is distributing BW maps or other materials. Police/Fire can’t make it to every party, so WSBWCN are working with Officer Jon Kiehn & Mark Solomon to have the packets that the police hand out (for kids) available for pickup at the SW Precinct sometime prior to Night Out. We’re also gathering emergency preparedness materials that can be given to your Night Out attendees. Stay tuned for more details on when all these will be available!

The primary advice: keep it simple, meet new neighbors, have fun and enjoy.

A few other announcements:

No WSBWCN meetings in July & August, but we’ll be at the Precinct Picnic, Summer Fest, & the Alki Art Fair. We’ll be available via phone & email, as well, if you want to reach us.

Code for America is seeking approx 20 BW captains to test their new tool “City Hero” when planning our Night Out events; we’ve posted their details & contact info on our site. See update below.

Thanks to those of you who attended & participated!

Updated, 6/30/11: Adding link to the meeting coverage from the West Seattle Herald.

Updated, 7/1/11: We heard from Anna Bloom from Code for America late yesterday.  The beta test of “City Hero” in conjunction with National Night Out events has been cancelled; the beta testing will be rescheduled in the Fall.

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