For many, the announcement of Florida’s tax-free weekend for hurricane supplies was enough to jumpstart conversations at home and in the workplace about what type of weather we might see this year. While it’s impossible to know what the coming months hold, we do know that it’s time to plan.
Our neighbors and communities are one bright spot as we think about the devastation that Irma brought us just months ago. Neighbors pulled together and talked with each other, checked on houses for friends who were away, invited others to stay with them and helped in picking up downed fences and branches.
We have long known that this type of connection at the neighborhood level is the foundation for good mental health, increased safety and overall community pride. Many felt that last September. As storms shifted away and the last of the debris was removed, neighbors returned to keeping to themselves and checking in less with their community.
Let’s circle back to that. At least a little bit.
Although the city can't create social ties, active steps in ramping up community outreach to more efficiently serve those here in Largo have been taken. Departments performing work in the community are working together in creating ways to open up communication lines with local neighborhoods. Projects related to enhancing community ties include the creation of a Neighborhood Grant program, Speakers Bureau, Contact Collector and a neighborhood naming project. All efforts tie us back to the city’s vision of being the community of choice in Tampa Bay.
Neighborhood Grant Program
The program provides matching grants to neighborhood groups interested in building strong relationships around community-driven beautification projects. All projects must result in an enhancement to the neighborhood’s identity, enlist community participation, foster a sense of community pride, be highly visible to the general public and be a project that can be permitted by City regulations.
This project pulled together existing city resources and placed them all together for convenience. Community members can select a topic they are interested in learning about and have a speaker come out to talk to their neighborhood, civic group or business. Topics include: ALICE- Active Shooter Training, Economic Development and what’s next for Largo, Fire Safety and Education, General Community which includes information on neighborhoods, city services, our neighborhood grant program and ways to participate in city government, Police and Community Watch, Police Senior Services, Recreation, Park & Arts and membership opportunities, Sustainability and Recycling and Tree Care among others.
The City of Largo's first-ever crowdsourced neighborhood map, called That Map!, is an interactive exploration of the places we call home. That Map! enables area residents to literally put their communities on the map and contribute to their collective neighborhood identity.
A key goal of our outreach projects is to create stronger communication with local neighborhoods. Neighborhood Leaders, Community Associations, Civic Groups are invited to update their information with the city. Up-to-date contacts will allow speedier access to projects impacting the neighborhood and opportunities to provide immediate feedback.
These efforts are just a small fraction of how the city works, often behind the scenes, to improve the day-to-day life of community members. No matter what Largo may weather this season, we challenge the community to take action and connect with each other and with us, even before its absolutely necessary.
All projects can be accessed at Largo.com/Connect.