- Politics and Social Issues
Forbes Names The Friendliest Towns in America: H.O.W. Is The Answer!
Forbes Magazine recently announced the Top Fifteen Friendliest Towns in the United States. In order to determine ranking, Forbes ranked towns with a population of between 5,500 and 150,000 based on four data points:
· Percentage of owner-occupied homes
· The crime rate
· Charitable giving
· Percentage of college graduates
The reasons behind using the crime rate and charitable giving should be obvious. The percentage of owner-occupied homes was used as a criteria because studies have shown a direct correlation between homeownership and neighborhood stability. As for the percentage of college graduates, studies have also shown that college-educated folks typically display more civic engagement, with higher rates of voting and volunteering.
FRIENDLY FOLKS ACROSS AMERICA
Based on those criteria, the Top Eight Friendliest Towns are:
1. Sammamish, Washington population 46,700
2. Orinda, California population 17,932
3. Fishers, Indiana population 79,127
4. Seal Beach, California population 24,536
5. Westerville, Ohio population 36,665
6. Frisco, Texas population 121,387
7. Alpharetta, Georgia population 46,700
8. Downers Grove, Illinois population 48,163
Besides the four criteria mentioned earlier, most of these towns also shared several other factors. All have open public spaces such as parks, beaches, and outdoor recreational facilities. They all have a central downtown area for town-sponsored events. They all have festivals, concerts, and street markets, and many have neighborhood watch groups.
Sammamish, on the shores of Lake Sammamish, is a bedroom community east of Seattle. Nearly 90% of the residents there own their own homes. The unemployment rate is right around 5%, and the crime rate is 90% lower than the national average. Community events include a weekly farmer’s market, a Concert in the Park series, Shakespeare in the Park, a Jazz Music Festival, and an Arts Fair. In addition, it offers a bevy of outdoor activities including boating, swimming, hiking, fishing and biking.
Another common factor that all of these towns share is organized neighborhood groups that promote neighbors interacting with each other, and community involvement.
REFLECTIONS FROM OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON
Normally this writer pays little attention to national magazines and their lists. They are, for the most part, valuable only as a source of conversation around the water cooler at work, as well as giving bragging rights to a select few towns. However, this subject is near and dear to my heart, because it speaks about something that is sorely missing in the United States today.
I have written often about the need for neighbors to come together. First neighborhoods, then communities, then cities, and then the nation….. that is my vision of how we are going to solve our common problems in this country.
We cannot rely on the government to bail us out of this mess. That simply is not going to happen, so that leaves the job at our doorstep.
I live in Olympia Washington, and to be specific I live in the Northeast Neighborhood of Olympia. I capitalized the neighborhood name for a reason, namely because it is an active group of people who have organized and coordinated to make their area livable and safe. Crime is lower in our neighborhood than in the rest of Olympia. There is a feeling of safety in our little corner of the world, and there is also a feeling of friendship and comradeship here. It reminds me very much of the neighborhood where I grew up as a kid, where neighbors talked to each other when outside, and helped each other when help was needed.
It is my vision for the rest of this once-great country, but it is going to take a coordinated effort on the part of each community.
Creating A Community
- Creating A Social Community One Person At A Time
The account of one neighborhood in Olympia, Washington, that decided to do something about re-claiming the area for safe family living.
WHAT’S IT GOING TO TAKE?
I heard a Congressman in Washington D.C. say once that the most important politicians in the country are not the U.S. Senators, or the U.S. Representatives, or even the President. The most important politicians in this country are the school board members, and the planning commission members, and others who hold positions where real decisions are made on a local level. Those are the real seats of power in this country, and those are the seats of power where real change will happen.
I happen to believe that. Day to day, most decisions made in Congress have very little effect on me or my family. However, the decisions made by the folks in City Hall in downtown Olympia tend to affect me on a regular basis, so if I want to change things where I live then I need to be in an organized group that will demand change. Our neighborhood group does that, and that makes me feel better.
Listen, we all know that things are not going well in this country. We all know about the problems of crime, drugs, homelessness, sex trafficking, unemployment and on and on. The question is what are we going to do about those things? Are we going to continue to hide in our homes and bemoan the fact that times are tough, or are we going to be the instruments of change? I have no patience with whiners; I have infinite patience for those who come up with solutions and then find a way to make those solutions work.
The H.O.W. Preamble
- The H.O.W. Preamble
Making this world a better place in which to live; that is the goal of Humanity One World, and it is the responsibility of every single human being.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
What do you want to do? Do you want a safer neighborhood? Then don’t sit back and wait for someone else to organize your neighbors; be the instrument of change!
Do you want better schools? Then get involved with the school board and be the instrument of change!
Do you want to end homelessness in your city, or find a way to help Veterans get the benefits they deserve? Then step up to the plate and start your own citizen action group, and by doing so become an instrument of change!
The opportunities are endless, but they require serious-minded people with serious-minded solutions, and a willingness to step out of their comfort zone and make things happen.
In case you haven’t noticed it, the wolves are howling at the door, and believe me when I tell you that wolves are not selective in choosing their next dinner. What has happened to millions in this country can happen to you, and you, and you over there.
Each one of us can make a difference. I’m wondering how much longer it will take!
H.O.W. are you going to make your town a better place to live in? H.O.W. are you going to make your town a friendlier town? H.O.W. are you going to make your town a safer town?
Humanity One World…..making a difference one person, one neighborhood, one town at a time.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)