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BEND, OR -- Bend city officials are trying to increase involvement in neighborhood associations.  Cheryl Howard got involved with the Orchard District in 2001, to learn more about activities for her then-young children.  "It’s keeping an eye on each other, it’s community building, it’s working collaboratively on a common goal. And sometimes what that looks like, is it might be working on doing something with an empty lot in your neighborhood, or developing a walking school bus to your child’s school, along with other neighbors with children that go to the same school."

 
Howard says many may not understand what neighborhood associations do. "There are 13 recognized neighborhood associations in the city of Bend. And, to be clear, sometimes folks get them confused with homeowners associations, and neighborhoods are different. There are no fees, there’s no cost. We don’t care about clotheslines, those sort of issues, although they may address land use matters going on in a neighborhood. They work at a much higher level, and sometimes it’s working at communicating better with city government."  She says the groups are a great way to effect change. "We know we have members on our own neighborhood association, which is the Orchard District, who have no interest in ever attending a neighborhood meeting. However, they would love to show up with their truck and a shovel if it’s something on the ground, get your hands dirty type of projects. We have other people who are interested in starting initiatives. They see a problem in their neighborhood and they’d like to do something to resolve this."
 
The Orchard District is helping to organize a community forum this weekend for those interested in learning more about getting involved in their neighborhood.  Howard says you don’t have to live in Bend to benefit from the free forum, which will cover topics ranging from neighborhood best practices to create a successful non-profit board.  Click HERE for more information and to RSVP. 
 

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