The plan to build strong neighborhoods pairs existing organizations in the Valley, such as law enforcement agencies and civic groups, with events such as National Night Out, Paint the Town, Movie Night at the Park, library and church events and street festivals.
Neighborhood residents would be encouraged to get involved with the events.
Tre Jerdon, research planning associate with the American Planning Association, said the idea of bringing neighbors together to take part in community activities is "a well thought-out idea."
"The importance of community involvement and cooperation between the stakeholders is critical," she said. "Not only do you get to know your neighbors, but you get to know the needs of the very people who live in your community."
The association is a national group that provides leadership in the development of communities.
Vision for the Valley is a movement sparked by an Idaho Statesman project that has attracted dozens of Treasure Valley movers and shakers with a shared interest of maintaining and enhancing the area's lifestyle. Ten committees are working on themes such as educational opportunity, charitable climate, a caring community, training workers, investing in mobility, constructive collaboration, strong economy, creative culture and environmental stewardship.
Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, who served on the strong neighborhoods committee, said simple acts like helping elderly neighbors with their yard work or cleaning up an empty lot and planting a community garden help neighbors get to know each other.
Organizing larger events can be handled by the local Chamber of Commerce, religious groups and neighborhood associations, he said.
"The only limit is your own imagination," he said. "Eventually, the idea is to get people out of their houses and talking to each other."
One example of a larger project would be creating neighborhood watch groups. The committee's plan envisions residents gathering for a block party or cookout on National Night Out, Aug. 4, and pairing with local law enforcement. The annual event is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. Its purpose is to bring people together to form local neighborhood watch groups to prevent crime.
The neighborhoods committee, which included Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and Star Mayor Nate Mitchell, started with the goal of getting people involved in at least one neighborhood event each year.
Committee Chairwoman and Meridian Planning Director Anna Canning said every committee member agreed that creating safe, livable communities would require a plan focused on getting people out and talking to each other.
The plan now goes to a Vision for the Valley Steering Committee, which will advocate for the solutions developed by the neighborhoods committee, as well as find ways to make them mesh with recommendations from the other working groups.
The steering committee also will point the various committees in the right direction for achieving their goals, said Chairman Rich Raimondi.
Joe Estrella: 377-6465