REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK | National Night Out

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Will you be barbecuing with neighbors on August 4? Or will you be on vacation and wishing that your block could do something cool like National Night Out, but maybe in September? Does NNO work better as a community-building tool or as a marketing opportunity?

This August 4 is the 26th National Night Out. Participation since its inception has grown from 400 communities in 23 states to more than 11,000 communities in 50 states.

Yes to NNO
Those who support it believe it is a good way to connect with neighbors and deter crime. However, the program has its critics. Some people see NNO as unnecessary. Others prefer to celebrate at a different time rather than participate in the national event.

No to NNO
Last year, the Star Tribune reported that some communities were opting out because NNO founder Matt Peskin got $322,000 in salary and benefits, and had friends and relatives on the board until last year. Peskin controls the non-profit National Association of Town Watch, which has trademarked the name and sells products for the parties. Peskin’s salary was about one-third of the organization’s budget.

Another criticism has been lack of flexibility– all National Night Out events have to be held on August 4, except for Texas, which will celebrate on October 6.

Some neighborhoods, cities and counties have opted for alternatives, such as Celebrating Safe Communities in Dakota County last year, or Night to Unite in some other local communities.

Where do you stand?
We would like to hear from you.

• What are you and your neighbors doing for NNO? Any great ideas to share?
• If you participate in NNO, what benefits do you see?
• If you don’t participate in NNO, why not?
• Are there things you like or dislike about NNO?

Please take a few moments and write your responses below or email them to deb@tcdailyplanet.net. Remember to include your name and contact information for follow-up.