I recently ran into an old friend raking leaves in her yard and I kidded her about using an old-fashioned implement instead of new gas-fired leaf blowers. She reminded me about a column I wrote a while back alerting the operators and ourselves how unhealthy these devices are to the health of all concerned. We lamented that it appears to have had little effect.
Her proposed solution was for Del Mar’s code enforcement officer to devote only one hour a month issuing tickets to all violators of our ordinance prohibiting leaf blowers, likely resulting in dramatic change within a short period of time, “just think only one hour a month, only one hour to achieve a major improvement in our community’s quality of life ... one hour a month, one hour a month...”
As I walked on I began to think about her one-hour-a-month notion as a community building strategy. What if each one of us decided to devote one hour each month to enhancing the quality of our lives? Let’s start modestly with 1,000 citizens, times one hour, times 12 months. Wow! We are looking at 12,000 hours of human capital injected into our community.
Start with each council member knocking on doors, one-hour-a-month, asking what ideas you have for improving the town.
Our city manager knocking on doors, one-hour-a-month asking how we can improve how city hall operates.
Our sheriff lieutenant or deputy knocking on doors, one-hour-a-month asking how we can better police our streets and neighborhoods.
Each resident spends one-hour-a month phoning or knocking on doors of neighbors we don’t know, or perhaps lonely elders who would appreciate some simple conversation.
What if a local business operator spent one-hour-a-month knocking on doors, asking residents what products or services they would like to buy in Del Mar? That could well be the breakthrough we need to achieve our Community Plan’s vision of “resident-serving businesses.”
I remember my mother telling me to knock on the door of an elderly neighbor to see if I could rake leaves or carry out her trash cans. This was one of my first community building lessons, realizing that we should be looking out for our neighbors.
What was interesting for this youngster was not only how good it was to help someone else, but how good it made me feel about myself.
Del Mar is a very special place. One-hour-a-month could make it even better.