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Get out and meet your neighbors


Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting before you find just the right formula. That seems to be the philosophy in Forest Grove, where organizers of the annual National Night Out event are shaking things up a bit this year.

Western Washington County cities were relative latecomers to this annual August event, which started nearly three decades ago to raise public awareness about crime prevention and help communities organize in that effort.

Forest Grove hosted its first National Night Out event five years ago, in the parking lot between the police and fire stations on Ash Street.

Then, in 2009, organizers amped up the energy level and moved the event to Lincoln Park, where it grew into a giant citywide party, with music, free food and information booths.

Similar events, on a smaller scale, are held in Gales Creek, Cornelius, Gaston and Banks.

But Forest Grove officials are passing on the big bash in the park this year and instead heading back to neighborhoods, where they will host a series of smaller block parties — returning to the event’s roots as a neighborhood-based event.

The idea — and it’s a good one — is that the best way for folks to curb crime is by paying attention and working together.

Regular readers of our police log (and we know there are lots of you out there) will notice how often police are called to investigate something by an observant neighbor who sees or hears something suspicious.

Police encourage such calls, but they also would like to foster more neighbor-to-neighbor communication, either through an official Neighborhood Watch program or informal information exchanges and familiarity.

For example, the sight of a young man running from a neighbor’s backyard with a small duffle bag could be cause for alarm. But, if you recognize him as your neighbor’s son, who’s a varsity tennis player at the high school, you can wish him good luck on his next match rather than dialing 9-1-1.

Similarly, if you’re building a closet in your garage and rented a concrete nailer powered by a .22 caliber powder load, you may want to mention it to the folks who live near you. (Who knows? Maybe they’ll offer to help!)

All these interactions come easily when neighborhoods turn into communities of people who look out for each other. Those who would tag fences with graffiti, prowl for unlocked cars or sell stolen goods from a car port will all gravitate toward areas where suspicious activities go unreported.

Too often we forget to act neighborly. Sometimes we blame our busy schedules or our responsibilities to a job far away from where we live.

For too many of us, that means living in a place with no familiar faces for weeks. For some, those weeks turn into years.

But it’s never too late to say “hi” to your neighbors. They’re waiting to hear it. And you’re waiting to hear it from them. Now’s your chance.

Get involved:

Here’s how you can get more information about local

National Night Out events.

Banks: National Night Out will come to Banks Greenville City Park from 6 p.m. to dusk, Aug. 7. Contact Christy Greagor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Cornelius: Harleman Park, located at 795 S. Heather St., in Cornelius will come alive with hot dogs and drinks from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Aug. 7. Call Laura Christy at 503-359-1881 for more information.

Forest Grove: Events will be held throughout the city, neighborhood by neighborhood. Look for posters in your neighborhood or contact Teresa Kohl at the Forest Grove Police Department for more information, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-992-3108.

Gales Creek: A potluck will be held Tuesday, Aug. 7, 6 to 9 p.m. at the Gales Creek School. Call Joyce Sauber at 503-357-2663 or Sharon Boge at 503-357-7688 for more information.