Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gun Play

I meandered over to the park late this afternoon to enjoy a little fresh air. Four youngsters, perhaps 10 years of age, sat on the side-by-side slides loading hard plastic pellets into their orange-tipped -- though nevertheless real-looking -- toy guns.

I asked the boys if they planned to shoot their toy guns in the park. They said no. I told them I was glad to hear that because the hard pellets could really hurt someone if they went into an eye.

One of the youngsters then said, "If someone does a drive-by, we're going to shoot them back."

Ugh. I've got such a pit in my stomach over this comment. The park isn't a dangerous place, but clearly this kiddo is tuned in enough to the possibility of gang violence that he -- and his friends -- have incorporated that reality into their play.

I saw the kids again a couple minutes later, but didn't see their guns. I can't help but think they may have hidden their "pieces" in their waist bands.

I'm not sure if I should chalk this up to acting vigilante, posing gangsta, or mere play. I'm also curious to know if there are any laws or even recommendations about using toy guns in public areas. It sure seems like the kind of thing that could scare other kids and parents from the park.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What numbers do you have available on your cell phone?

This weekend I engaged in our biannual tradition of updating the ol' earthquake kits (yes, plural -- home, office, car). It's something I do with each time change, right after I check the smoke detector batteries.

This "spring forward" I added a new little ritual to my expanding effort to enhance perceived control of the uncontrollable: I updated my cell phone to include a couple more emergency/urgent numbers. In particular, I added numbers for the Poison Action Center (1-800-222-1222) and Kaiser's advice nurse.

This update got me thinking about other phone numbers I "should" keep handy. Any recommendations? So far, I've got:

Pomona Dispatch 909-622-1241
Graffiti Removal Hotline 909-620-2265
Code Compliance 909-620-2374
Shopping Cart Rescue 800-497-1984
Poison Action Center 800-222-1222

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pomona K-9 Saves the Day

Three cheers for K-9 Officer Willow and her human partner, Officer Joe Hernandez, for tracking and finding a missing child in Fontana!

Here's a link to KTLA's story.

Monday, March 15, 2010

SeeClickFix -- Citizens Communicating to Cities

Listening to a huge backlog of podcasts, I found myself zoning out given many of the reports no longer felt timely. My ears perked up, however, as NPR's Melissa Block introduced a story about citizens using technology to communicate concerns to the city.

I'm now "watching Pomona" using a very cool service titled seeclickfix. It is available as a website and a smart phone ap. And, you can follow the service using the various social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook.

Here's how it works...

1. Residents post concerns--and photographs, when available--about the city to the site. The more specific the better, in my humble opinion. For example, we can report a big ol' pothole at a particular intersection, an out-of-commission street light in a given park, an ugly banner hanging out of a window at a specific address.

2. Other residents "vote" to indicate they, too, are concerned about the issue and would like the issue fixed. If you would like to lend your voice to the process by endorsing items for fixing of leaving comments, consider setting up an account (though it looks like you can also just enter an e-mail address -- I'm guessing the address wouldn't get displayed, but I'm not sure, hence the recommendation for an account). It looks like it is also possible to text in your vote. Ingenious.

3. Everyone keeps an eye out for the municipality to fix the concern. Once the issue is resolved (e.g., a pot hole gets filled in), users can indicate that the concern has been fixed.

4. And -- this is very cool -- once you submit an issue, the site will automatically generate a flier you can print out with the details of your concern. Talk about making things easy!

According to the NPR story, this tool has really taken off like wild fire in some areas. I'll be curious to see how well it works here in Pomona.

I'm trying to figure out how to add a tool to this blog that will allow us even easier access to voting and reporting on issues. The seeclickfix website generated the script, but I'm not sure how to get the widget to appear as a stable feature of the page (it appears below as an element within this post). Any ideas?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Earthquake Preparedness: You're Invited

Joyce, a member of the Willie White Park Focus Group, asked me to pass along the following invitation. Sure looks like a great opportunity! (And, I'm guessing the presentation will give us an excuse to meander through the fascinating aisles of M & I Surplus.)









On Thursday, March 18, 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M., the Willie White Park Focus Group will feature an EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS WORKSHOP at Willie White Park & Community Center, 365 Battram, Pomona. Mr. George Hunter from The Pomona Unified School District will coordinate the workshop.

The meeting will help residents be prepared when "THE BIG ONE HITS." It is coming, learn what, when, why and how to be ready.

Also, LA County Fire Station 186 and local merchant M&I Surplus will be on hand to talk about what you need in your kit, what and how much do you need for yourself, your kids and your pets, where do you go and how do you get there, and the role of fire personnel when "THE BIG ONE HITS.? A sample earthquake kit will be on display for your review.

Receive your take-home earthquake preparedness guide and checklist. YOU REALLY NEED TO ATTEND.

As always, refreshments will be served plus door prize drawings.

Beginning in April of 2010, The Willie White Park Focus Group (WWPFG) will move its meetings to the 3rd Tuesday of each month.

The WWPFG is an association of neighbors organized in the early 1990's to address gang problems and to uplift their formerly depressed neighborhood. Former Councilman Willie White is the founder. WWPFG sponsors monthly meetings with guest speakers from local and state government offices, police department, fire department, Pomona Unified School District , and local service organizations.

For further information, call Melba Robison at (909) 596-4273 or M. Joyce Bakersmith at (909) 392-8666.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I want to count for something

An exciting piece of mail arrived yesterday. No, not my 2010 Census form. But, a note telling me my 2010 Census form is on its way. I'm so excited! Seriously. I want to count. (I see the headline now: "Census participation meets existential need").

Remember my little elevator speech about why we should all give a hoot about being counted? Well, Robert M. Groves, director of the US Census Bureau, makes a more succinct case:

"Your response is important. Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors need. Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share."


By the way, big props to the City of Fontana. I was out that way last week and noticed TONS of signage encouraging residents to take part in the Census (including a very prominent link on the city's web page). I don't remember seeing any "get out the count" efforts here in Pomona (other than that cryptic presentation I ranted about previously).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Bulletin about the Daily Bulletin

If you would like the Daily Bulletin to publish information about your NW meetings in the Neighborhood section of the paper, just ask. Send details to the city desk via e-mail, fax, or snail mail.

E-mail: citydesk@inlandnewspapers.com
Fax: 909-948-9038
Snail mail: 2041 E. Fourth St, Ontario, CA 91764
Thank you, Daily Bulletin, for helping build community.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Neighborhood Mapping

This afternoon we attended a three-hour meeting of Neighborhood Watch Block Captains, hosted by the Pomona Police Department's Crime Prevention Officers.

After some tasty eats, introductions, and conversation, we engaged in semi-structured discussion of NW topics such as strategies for growing and sustaining watch groups. During this discussion, the Block Captains of a wildly successful NW group shared with us a tool they developed to enhance communication among neighbors: a map.

This wasn't just any map. This was a detailed neighborhood map keyed to resident names, contact information, pet information, kid information, etc. Very impressive.

I found myself thinking, "No doubt such a tool would be tremendously useful IF...if only our neighborhood was less vacant; if only our neighborhood experienced less turnover." When we first started our NW group four or five years ago, we tried putting together a map. By the time we printed it, it was already out of date. Grrr.

Hearing about the successes of this other group's map has nevertheless inspired me to give it another go.