Learn To Connect With The Folks On Your Street

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Published: Mar 6, 2006

by Rick Barry


The demands of long commutes - and a host of other forces - have combined to drain a lot of the "community" from our cities and towns.

These demands of modern life have taken time and focus from our home communities and crippled participation in clubs, sports leagues, schools and political organizations - and drawn down the currency we bank through cooperation and interdependence.

The most widely read book on the subject is Robert D. Putnam's "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community."

Our loss of this "social capital" is blamed for ever-decreasing voter turnouts and blood donations, even for making strangers of neighbors.

Well, Hillsborough County government is working to do something about that. This year's Neighborhoods Conference to Help Revitalize Communities will bring together 875 neighborhood, civic, homeowners and crime-watch groups on Saturday at the Dale Mabry campus of Hillsborough Community College, 4001 Tampa Bay Blvd. in Tampa.

The event is from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Neighborhood leaders can network with one another, as well as government officials and business leaders, and attend any of 24 workshops on topics from improving neighborhood aesthetics to better social interaction.

The cost, $15, includes three workshops, access to exhibit booths, breakfast, an awards luncheon and door prizes. To register, call (813) 272-5860 or visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/onr.

Will Doubling Up Pay Off?

From Dean S. Robinson, Tampa: "I think the biggest difference in attitude regarding 'alternative transport' is that it's one thing to choose to do this, quite another when you have to do it.

"In the early '80s in San Jose, [Calif.,] I had to use public transportation (or walk). I had to adjust my schedule - work hours, college classes, even grocery shopping around the bus schedule.

"I knew a lot of guys who took the bus as an alternative to driving. However, whenever the need arose, they could skip the bus and use their cars. So they had a much different attitude toward public transportation than I did.

"The same applies now. To go back to public transportation or even carpooling would cost me ... freedom. I would have to adhere to one more schedule. While that wouldn't kill me, the price of gas, insurance and the commute time isn't killing me either.

"However, being a good sport, my wife and I (we travel similar routes to work) are going to combine for a week of one-car commuting and see how it works out.

"If it looks like there's tangible savings, we'll milk it for all it's worth. If we experience too much inconvenience, it's back to one-car, one-person."

Move It! It's The Law

That's the headline on a new campaign from the Florida Highway Patrol and other organizations telling motorists to move their damaged vehicles off the roadway, or have them moved, as soon as possible after a wreck without injuries, in an effort to ease traffic congestion and prevent secondary crashes.

Then call 911. There will be no penalty from police or insurance companies for moving.

Another reason for clearing the scene: 59 percent of police casualties occur while officers are responding to wrecks.