‘It’s Up to Us’: How We Can All Make a Difference


Santa-Clara-County-Assessment-Carole-Leigh-Hutton-United-Way-Silicon-ValleyIf real and lasting change is going to happen for Silicon Valley residents, it’s going to have to come from them. That was one of the conclusions drawn from the 2012 Santa Clara County Assessment Project.

One of the phrases interviewers heard from residents surveyed last fall was, “It’s up to us.” The residents knew that in order to create a more cohesive community where those who are struggling are helped, the residents themselves were going to have to be more involved. They are no longer looking to government and institutions to do the job for them.

Yesterday I applauded United Way Silicon Valley President and CEO Carole Leigh Hutton for outlining in the Mercury News how her organization is going to change its focus toward fostering more community involvement.

Today I’m sharing the first part of the excellent action list that was included in the executive summary of the assessment. Tomorrow I’ll share the second part. To see the full list, including what institutions and policy makers can do, go to the United Way website page about the project, and click on the picture of the report.

What You Can Do
Around Your Home

  • Interact with your neighbors. Share fruits, vegetables or baked goods from your home. Make a point to welcome new residents. Invite your neighbors to join you in a walking group.
  • Say “hello” to young people in your neighborhood. Get to know them by name. Ask them for help with yard work or bringing in trash cans when you’re away. For very young children, keep chalk handy near your front yard and offer it for sidewalk art.
  •  Keep your front yard tidy. A clean appearance is inviting to neighbors and promotes community pride.
  • Answer public survey questionnaires.

Around Your Neighborhood

  • Invite neighbors to join you for an hour of neighborhood cleanup and enjoy snacks together, or organize a multi-family garage sale and donate a portion of the proceeds to the local school or library. Host a block party or other activity where people connect informally with one another.
  •   Set up an online communication group just for the people who live close by. (GNS Note: See if NextDoor has an online group in your neighborhood, or consider starting one. It’s a free service.)
  •   Institute a neighborhood watch where you live as a way to deter crime, improve neighbor interaction and increase communication.
  •   Clean up after your dog and make sure all of your trash gets tossed in a waste can when you’re in public. Taking responsibility builds  good will among neighbors.
  • Gather trash during outings to parks or walks in your neighborhood.
  • Rush to the aid of accident and street-crime victims and testify as a witness later in court.
  • Pursue instances of injustice by protesting these to the authorities or the media. Call the police if a traffic law is regularly ignored by drivers in your neighborhood. Call the City Arborist if you have concerns about a big shade tree scheduled for removal.

For more ideas see our More Ways to Be a Good Neighbor Page, or our Be Kind: Kindness Ideas Page.

What are you doing in your neighborhood? What will you commit to do? Let’s all inspire one another.


  1. […] I shared the list from last fall’s Santa Clara County Assessment Project. It has excellent suggestions for how we can all improve our neighborhoods. Today’s list casts the net a little wider to the […]