Defining the Neighborhood


   Neighborhood Asset Inventory
   Recruiting Your Neighbors To Participate
   Tips For Doorknocking
   Block Watchers


The Neighborhood Asset Inventory is made up of several parts which are listed below. Following this list is a brief narrative providing the philosophy and possible uses for the inventory. You may duplicate and/or modify each inventory to use as your community sees fit. Before making changes, read through all the inventories to be sure you are not recreating what is already there.

  • Physical and Social Description of the Neighborhood; Political Representation
  • Inventory of Neighborhood Organizations, Associations, and Clubs
  • Individual Asset Inventory
  • Household Inventory


The Neighborhood Asset Inventory is adapted from an inventory developed in Indianapolis which is based on two sources: John Kretzmann and John McKnight’s Building Communities From the Inside Out and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Training Institute’s Community Assessment Survey. The philosophy which guides this approach to community development is to recognize that neighborhoods not only have needs (often surveyed through “Needs Assessment” surveys), but that they also have assets. Once these assets become recognized, and people in the neighborhood with these assets begin to collaborate with one another, they are significant players in the rebuilding of neighborhoods and communities. The philosophy upon which the survey is based is also found at Xavier University’s “Community Building Institute.” Xavier provides leadership training consistent with this philosophy, and you may wish to contact their Community Affairs Office for further assistance with the survey and this approach to understanding and (re)building your neighborhood.

You can use all or parts of the inventory to get to know various aspects of your neighborhood or to collaborate with other organizations that display similar approaches to neighborhood development. Once the information is collected, it would be good public relations, good networking, and beneficial to membership development if it were printed and distributed by the community council. Some parts of the inventory may also be used by other organizations in your neighborhood. For instance:

  • The “Individual and Household Asset Inventory” could be useful for other clubs, such as Block Clubs or organizations, other civic organizations, or even churches. One of these, or a neighborhood-based social agency, could use it to help begin a “Time-Dollar” program, which is one name for a local skill-exchange network;
  • the “Business-Related Inventories” could be useful to the local business association or Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC);
  • the “Neighborhood Organizations, Associations, and Agencies Inventory” might be used to compile a neighborhood calendar. This would not only encourage neighborhood participation, but could also be a service project and a moneymaker for a club or association.


The information needed to complete the forms provided here for download can be collected from a variety of places.  This form can be adapted easily to an electronic form. We provide some suggestions at the top of each inventory; however, you may identify additional sources and methods of data collection.  The Community Building Institute also provides a map tool to aid in asset mapping.  


Recruiting your neighbors to participate in your community can be a challenging task! Not everyone will want to participate or to even talk about the organization. (Use the individual and household inventories provided earlier in this section.) Considering how you want to approach each of your neighbors in advance and what you want to discuss once you talk with them might help ease your conversations and enhance the sharing of information you are seeking. Before recruiting, it might be helpful to think about:

  • What do you already know about this individual — length of residency, previous involvement in this organization or in other community efforts, skills, interests, employment, etc.?
  • What skills does this person have that might be of value to the group?
  • Does the organization need residents to do certain tasks, or are all areas open?
  • Given what you already know about this neighbor and the needs of the organization, is there something specific you want to encourage this individual to do?

While recruiting, take time to consider:

  • Is the person already doing a task for which you can provide encouragement and support?
  • What is this individual’s interest and enthusiasm level for your community?
  • Are there new skills or avenues of participation that this person is interested in contributing or exploring?
  • What might prevent this person from participating (i.e., child care needs, transportation at night, work hours?) and how can this be addressed?
  • How do identified interests match with the needs of the group? Discuss what specific tasks/activities this person is willing to take on.
  • What areas for training or support are available to help your neighbor in completing the tasks that may be taken on?

Sharing information, particularly about one’s circumstances, requires the building of trust. Care given to respect and acceptance of your neighbor’s limitations and reasons for not participating are also essential elements in conducting outreach. Someone who is not positioned, ready, or interested in participating now might be in another year. A positive meeting, regardless of the outcome, is an important part of the outreach and recruiting process.


  • Be casual and informal. This is not a government survey but a friendly visit.
  • Go between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. weekdays, or Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Most people are not home during weekdays. Experiment with times given the population in your neighborhood.
  • Be brief. If you spend too long at each door, you will not be able to reach enough people.
  • Listen. This is how you will learn what problems exist, what people care about, and how interested they are in working with you and the community council. If you do all the talking, you will not be allowing the opportunity to find out how this person may be involved with you.
  • Make careful notes after you leave the door about the resident’s interests and potential. Do not write too many things down in front of the person; that can be intimidating.
  • Aim to leave with their phone number and names of others who might be interested.
  • Always ask if you can use their name with other people as a reference.
  • Leave a flyer or brochure about your community council that has contact information for further information.
  • Keep careful track of where you have doorknocked so you will not go to the same family twice (especially important if you have teams of people doorknocking). Use maps and codes to track this information.
  • Make doorknocking fun and simple! If you are coordinating other people’s efforts, give them all they will need before they start out: maps, rap sheet, clipboards, pens. Offer sodas at the end of the day, or some doughnuts before heading out in the morning.
  • If more than one language is spoken in your neighborhood, provide leaflets in these languages which can be left with families to make sure information is passed on.
  • Look out for dogs! Do not open gates without calling out first — dogs will usually respond to your voice even if you do not have them in sight.
  • Be safe. Let the neighborhood know who you are and what you are doing. If a situation feels unsure, a volunteer should feel free to leave. Someone else can follow up later and help address any misunderstandings which may have arisen.

Materials & Supplies Needed for Doorknocking

  • A good map of the area with specific houses to approach.
  • A list of people you already know. Go there first, and use their names to get into other doors.
  • A fact sheet, flyer, or brochure with a phone number to leave with the family.
  • A clipboard to keep organized.
  • A sheet or index card to write down where you have been, names and numbers, and information about each neighbor you visit.
  • An organizational button to wear or something that might help identify you and your group.
  • Rap sheet. This will insure that you identify yourself and the organization and that you provide the same information to everyone.

Expected Outcomes from Doorknocking

  • Determination of interests of the residents who live in the neighborhood.
  • Identification of skills that might be of use to the group.
  • Sorting of neighborhood problems that the group could work on.
  • Determination of neighborhood assets that can be of use to the group.
  • Enlisted support of existing leaders in the neighborhood (people perceived as leaders and/or truly effective leaders).
  • Enthusiasm for your group and interest in participation.
  • Ideas as to who might be good in emerging leadership roles.

Doorknocking: Sample Rap Sheet

Hi. I am Jane Smith from ABC Community Council. I am working with some of your neighbors. We are going around today to talk with people to find out your concerns about the neighborhood and what you would like to see change here. Do you have a moment?

What do you think about living in this neighborhood? Do you have any concerns? Some of your neighbors mentioned to us that they are worried about the gangs that seem to be gathering at the corner. Is this a concern for you? I have heard that the abandoned house across the street is a real problem — with rats and garbage . . . .

Our community council meeting is next Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. to talk about the community. It is going to be over at the community center and we thought you might be interested. Do you think you might be able to come? Who else in the neighborhood do you think might be interested? Will you ask them to come? (Would you like to go with me to invite them?) Can I mention your name to other neighbors as someone who is interested in this problem?

We are trying to keep track of everyone we talk to and want a way to get back to you and let you know about other meetings we might have concerning this problem. Would you be willing to give me your phone number? What is a good time to reach you?

Here is some information on our group and a number where you can reach me. I hope to see you next Tuesday at 6:30. Thanks!


Every citizen should be a BLOCK WATCHER . . . a concerned, public-spirited citizen who observes criminal activities in his or her neighborhood and reports that information to the Police Department. A BLOCK WATCHER’S objective is just to watch his/her adopted block and, if observing criminal or unusual activities, to report those activities with no further action being necessary.


The security of the City and its citizens depends upon the people themselves. No police department can effectively protect life and property without the support and cooperation of the citizens it serves.

The BLOCK WATCH program establishes a formal network for concerned citizens to report an emergency or criminal activity to the Cincinnati Police Division. The police need your help, your eyes and your ears. Criminals are less likely to operate in areas where the citizens are alert. The goal is to give potential criminals the feeling that everyone in the community is watching them.



Here is how it works . . . persons wishing to form a BLOCK WATCH should contact the Crime Prevention Officer of their local district or a member of your respective Community Council. To contact a District Crime Prevention Officer, call:

  • District 1 – 352-3505 or 352-2978
  • District 2 – 352-3592 or 352-3901
  • District 3 – 352-3574 or 352-3938
  • District 4 – 352-3576 or 352-3902
  • District 5 – 352-3578 or 352-3903

Training sessions will be scheduled by the Police Division. They will give professional instruction so that each BLOCK WATCH member will know what to look for, how to describe what he or she sees, and, finally, how to report the incident to the police.

Cincinnati Police Division BLOCK WATCHES are given a specific identification number which they will use when calling. The Police Communication Section will process calls in a prompt and efficient manner. BLOCK WATCH members are to call 765-1212 to report suspicious or unusual situations. If an emergency exists, call 911.

Here is an example of a Cincinnati Police Division BLOCK WATCH card:


DATE  ____________________ 

NAME _____________________________________________________ 

ADDRESS __________________________________________________

CITY/STATE/ZIP _____________________________________________ 

TELEPHONE NO. ____________________________________________ 

CINCINNATI POLICE DIVISION EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBER__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 


— OR –765-1212

Only the Crime Prevention Officer of the local District and the supervisor on duty at the Police Communication Section will have a list of BLOCK WATCH members. The patrol officers assigned to your complaint will not know your identity. If more information is needed, the Police Communications Section will call the BLOCK WATCH member back. In this way, a BLOCK WATCH member remains anonymous.

CALL 765-1212 OR 911
(Note: Remember that by calling 911 you are automatically giving your identity.)

Any time you want a Police Officer to respond to your location, call 765-1212 or 911. 

Police Officer in               Burglary                                                          Assault

Need of Assistance Homicide                         Purse Snatching                          Tampering with Auto

Person with a Weapon                                    Holdup                                              Vandalism

Vehicle Accident                            Gunshots                     Any unusual, possibly, criminal, situation

In case of fire or explosion, serious injury, or odor of gas, call the Fire Department at 911. (Note: Remember that by calling 911, you are automatically revealing your identity and location.)

This list is not intended to include all emergency cases, but to give you a guide as to when to call 765-1212 or 911.

When calling Police Communications about an emergency, do not hang up until told to do so.

What to do if the Police do not respond in a reasonable amount of time or the dispatcher demands to know your name after advising him of your BLOCK WATCHER number:

  1.  Ask to speak to a supervisor.
  2. Record the date and time of call.
  3. Notify your District Crime Prevention Officer as soon as possible.
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