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Hello and welcome to the 4200 block of Louisiana Avenue in Dutchtown! 

My name is Joel Silliman and I’m the current Block Captain for 4200 Louisiana.

Our block has been well-established in having existing relationships with our neighbors, but in 2018, this got a boost when we had our first block party as part of National Night Out. Coming out of this, we began to develop a communication model where we could stay in better contact with one another, and out of that began a series of coordinated block parties, an increased alignment and focus on safety, and a better ability to pull together to support those neighbors in need.

It was out of this new growth that I developed my vision for how we can expand on and standardize our organization formula to replicate it on other blocks to have systemic impact on the health and wellbeing of our surrounding communities while continuing to grow internally.

Within this vision is an organizational structure of leadership in Safety, Events, and Outreach, a communication model that is inclusive to those with the ability to connect electronically or otherwise, and a strategic growth plan for the next 5 years, including larger scale community events to draw-in members in our surrounding community, partnering with other neighborhood organizations to ensure alignment in the tasks and initiatives we are performing, and a plan to train the leaders that will initiate this model on neighboring blocks in the years to come.

If you are considering moving to our neighborhood, I welcome you to contact me or any of the other coordinators. We can talk to you about what we are doing as a community, what is good about the neighborhood, and what is a work-in-progress. 

If you are an existing neighbor, there are opportunities to be as connected and engaged in this model as you want to be, and we encourage you to reach out so we can connect with you as well.

None of us are better than all of us together.

We look forward to meeting you.

This post originally appeared on DutchtownSTL.org.

Flyer for the Virginia Avenue Block Meeting on Friday, August 7th in Dutchtown.

On Friday, August 7th, residents and business owners from the 4300 and 4400 blocks of Virginia Avenue will meet at Starz Salon, 4445 Virginia in the backyard. These neighbors want to begin forming an organized and cohesive block club. You’re welcome to join from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Meet the neighbors, along with residents from other nearby and recently organized blocks, plus representatives from DT2 • Downtown Dutchtown and the Dutchtown Community Improvement District.

How Block Organizing Starts

A growing group of neighbors on Virginia began talking about issues on their blocks — trash on the street and in the alleys, crime, and other nuisance activities nearby. What started with an informal plan for a neighborhood cleanup evolved into a desire to create an organized and permanent coalition for neighbors to strengthen and improve their corner of Dutchtown.

They’re not the first blocks in Dutchtown to organize. It usually starts organically. A few neighbors on each others’ porches discussing experiences and some loose ideas will turn into a few more neighbors cleaning up the alley. Then they’ll plan a block party that gets everyone onto the street, meeting and mingling, often for their neighbors for the first time. They exchange phone numbers and emails. They talk more and look out for each other. The momentum grows.

What Happens Next

This is how things started on the 4200 block of Louisiana, the 3500 block of Kingsland Court, and certainly others over the years throughout Greater Dutchtown. What started as a few neighbors casually interacting became a tight network of residents who communicate, plan, and protect each other.

Planning the Future of Block Organizing

DT2 • Downtown Dutchtown and DutchtownSTL.org seek to strengthen these nascent block organizations, facilitate communication, and build a template for other blocks to follow. With the experience of neighbors already involved, we hope to create a straightforward model that helps interested blocks quickly get organized.

Does your block already have an organization that fits the bill? Would you like it to? Get in touch with us and help to plan for the future of block organizing in Dutchtown.

You can also meet us tonight at Starz Salon for refreshments and discussion about how your block can get involved. Make sure to be safe and bring your mask along with your ideas and questions!


Top photo by Paul Sableman.