WHY DO WE EXIST?
Because 12% and 28% are numbers
that absolutely must change.
NEIGHBORHOODS CONNECT is an initiative that began in early 2012 as SpeakOut Maricopa County, the Maricopa County branch of SpeakOut AZ.
Led by Elva Coor, SpeakOut AZ originated as a project of O'Connor House, "where civil talk leads to civic action." Using the data collected -- and goals created by -- The Arizona We Want Institute, a prime goal of SpeakOut is to move Arizona from one of the bottom ten states in civic participation to one of the top ten.
As the SpeakOut Maricopa team approached the problem of lack of civic engagement here, a single poll result from the Gallup-Arizona We Want survey in 2009 struck us as the core of our problem: Only 12% of Arizonans believe the people in their community care about each other.*
That was bad news, but there was more to come. A 2009 Pew Research poll showed that 28% of Americans do not know a single neighbor by name!**
Leaving aside the depleted quality of life for human beings living such isolated existences, we believe that a democracy simply cannot survive if its citizens don't feel part of anything past their front door. If Arizonans and Americans are not connected to each other, why would they participate in our democracy in any of the ways that would make it thrive?
Our leadership team (Barbara Robertson, Brenda Sperduti, Doug Mings, Michael Powell, and Susan Edwards) decided that the best way to increase civic engagement -- and protect our democracy -- was to connect and build healthy, involved neighborhoods.
We researched what is already being done, and worked with Mayor Greg Stanton's Office, City Council members, the Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department and Prosecutor's Office, neighborhood leaders in Phoenix,along with interested and involved corporations and non-profits and the Arizona Multihousing Association, among others, to determine how best to tackle the problem. Our team ultimately concluded that there was a need for an organization which brings all of the stakeholders in neighborhoods together to connect, support,and build healthy, flourishing neighborhoods.
What was missing is the vehicle and voice that could bring everyone together to effect necessary changes. There was no organization to find and share approaches that work from across the city, state, and country -- and to help support and build healthy neighborhoods in a non-adversarial way.
We formed NEIGHBORHOODS CONNECT to fill that void, starting with Phoenix as our pilot city, and incorporated as an Arizona non-profit corporation in June, 2014. On July14, 2015, the IRS awarded NEIGHBORHOODS CONNECT its designation as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations to NEIGHBORHOODS CONNECT are tax-deductible as allowed by the federal tax code.
* The Arizona We Want Report, with Gallup-Arizona poll results: http://www.thearizonawewant.org/reports/taww2.php
** Pew Research report: http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/06/09/neighbors-online/