I'm feeling optimistic about Norristown today. Of course, I haven't been to a council meeting in 6 days, and I still have 3 days before the next zoning workshop, but it's more than that, really. Something amazing has begun in our town and you all need to sit up and take notice.
We have a lot of volunteer organizations in the borough. Some have been around a while, but many are less than a year old. It's as if Norristown residents have finally decided to take matters into their own hands. We want safe, clean streets, and a future for our kids, and government isn't helping. Enter the Men of Excellence, the Norristown Project, Town Watch, Norristown Nudge, Norristown Area CTC and Violence Prevention Initiative, ACPPA Community Arts Center, the Dragon Boat Club of Norristown, any many others.
But what's really neat is that, lately, these groups are beginning to hook up and do great things together. The Dragon Boat Club of Norristown teamed up with The Norristown Project to clean up Riverfront Park (it looked great on Saturday!). The boat club also teamed up with ACPPA Community Arts Center to produce a mural on the boat house. You can't go onto Facebook anymore without seeing all these groups sharing each others' announcements and events, supporting each others' efforts, cheering each other on. If you go to any town event, no matter who sponsors it, you'll likely see representatives of many of these groups, just because they WANT to be there.
So I appreciated that, at Riverfest, Norristown actually formally recognized a lot of these groups for their work, pointing out that they're all volunteers. The only motive for their work is to make Norristown better--safer, cleaner, healthier, more creative, and a great place to raise families.
One other note, in the interest of communication: While I was writing up this post, Shae Ashe of The Norristown Project contacted me. He found an online app called Nextdoor.com. It's sort of a social network specifically for neighborhoods. You can post events, crime and safety info, traffic alerts, etc., and share the posts with other nearby neighborhoods. The Police Dept. or Council members can join their neighborhoods and disseminate information.
Shae set up a neighborhood called "Norristown Farm Park," for most the West End, I set up one for about half the North End called "Elmwood Park." We can share posts with each other and cover much of Norristown. If you join, you need to enter your address, but you can change the setting to keep your house number private. If your address doesn't fit into an existing neighborhood, you can set one up yourself (and help us reach more residents). The program will send alerts to your mobile phone or email.
So volunteer if you can. If you do, team up with and support other organizations--we get more done that way. If you can't, support the volunteers by helping to spread news about our great organizations. At the very least, stay informed through something like Nextdoor.com or Facebook or by checking the norristown.org calendar (but, remember, they don't post everything there).
If we can improve communication, and support our incredible volunteer network, nothing can stop Norristown from changing for the better. Not even our government.