“Help Me … I’m Dirty!”

In my societal commentary,”Orion … A Feline Metaphor for Hybrid Governance,” I proposed a hybrid type of governance as alternative to our current political malaise and civic ineptitude. At the center of this hybrid is the Community 3.0 Front Porch civic network. A Front Porch can be the local pub down the street or the coffee-house you get your morning the espresso from. It can be Bill’s garage where everyone hangs out to watch Sunday football games. It can even be your kitchen table. What happens on the Front Porch is what matters … not what it looks like or where it is.

The Front Porch’s purpose is to identify Solutions, whether they be in response of needs or opportunities. These Solutions are designed to help your community pick up the slack and mend its societal safety net. They can range from organizing a cleanup effort, to fixing a playground, to even spearheading a high school mentoring or apprentice program.

To get a more full understanding of the Community 3.0 Front Porch concept, please read the post, “Front Porches.

As a part of the Community 3.0 platform we’ve put together a roster of several examples of what can come of collaborations in your community’s Front Porches. Imagine, take direct action … and this could be your community.

One of these examples is “Help Me … I’m Dirty.”


Initial and on-going neighborhood clean-up efforts


Do ever walk past that vacant lot and wonder what could be … what could be if someone did something. If someone just cleaned it up, that would be a start. But then, who knows what we could make it. And maybe if this vacant lot became something – something beautiful, then maybe it would catch on. In 1982, James Wilson and George Kelling wrote an article in the Atlantic Monthly titled “Broken Windows.” Here’s an example from the article:

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a pavement. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars. 

This article became the basis on the “Broken Windows Theory.” In 1994 Bill Bratton became the New York City Police Commissioner under Rudy Giuliani.  A cornerstone of Bratton’s reign was the implementation of the  “Broken Windows” philosophy in New York. A portion of the police budget was put towards the clean-up of neighborhood in high-risk crime areas, including repairing broken windows in abandoned buildings. Bratton even went so far as to repaint subway cars each night if they had been “tagged” during operation that day. Every car left the terminal the next morning “clean.”

“Help Me … I’m Dirty” is Community 3.0‘s version of implementing the “Broken Windows” philosophy. Its premise is that a when a community has a clean environment, free from debris, vandalism and of course broken windows … it has a much higher likelihood of staying that way. Community 3.0 will help its Merchants organize clean-up crews consisting of their clientele to beautify their neighborhoods. A Merchant will sponsor a block or a postal carrier zone that they would be responsible for near their establishment, or if they wish elsewhere in their community.

“Help Me … I’m Dirty” will not be restricted to common areas (parks, playgrounds, boulevards, streets, etc.) or abandoned buildings and lots. But rather clean-up efforts will be extended, free of charge, to those who cannot do it themselves – such as the elderly or disabled. It is our job to pick up the slack where the government and their obsession with civic austerity have let us all down.

“Help Me … I’m Dirty” is a two-part process. Step One is to get to Base Zero. Base Zero is where the community is “clean,” free of litter and debris and repairs are made on as many buildings as possible (where landowners initially cooperate). Ideally this Base Zero effort should happen in as concentrated time period as possible, say a weekend or two consecutive ones. An excellent example of this is The Better Block, a non-profit out of Fort Worth, Texas. They travel to cities here in the United States and abroad with their “community revitalization swat teams.”

Step Two is maintaining Base Zero and improving on it. The Community 3.0 Merchants will set up clean-up dispatches with their Contributor customers to take care of their sponsored zones. These dispatches can be done at set days or it can be more spontaneous according to need. This on-demand response can done in coordination with Community 3.0‘s Hey … We Need Help Over Here cause project.

Also included in Step Two is putting further pressure on landowners to step up and be part of solution. Ones that don’t want to cooperate most often have properties contributing significantly to the blight. They can’t be let off the hook. If one-to-one dialogue doesn’t produce results – put pressure on them by using the local media. They will be positioned as standing in the way of the “revitalization of the community” and all subsequent benefits that will accrue from it. If the media pressure doesn’t move them, their peers will.

It’s difficult to feel good about your city, your community and neighborhood if it’s littered with debris, hubris and neglect. The most promising members of your community will want nothing to do with it and move on to more favorable environments. And this says nothing about the attracting “new blood” to your community. It won’t happen, except for those you don’t want. An environment is a reflection its inhabitants and vice versa.


We ask you to join the “Help Me … I’m Dirty” initiative in your community. Help us create a foundation for which our communities can build on in their quest for self-sustainability and well-being. No matter what role you wish to play; whether it’s directly in your community or you’re someone who wants to lend your experience and expertise to us in devising network-wide programs … we welcome you.

To get a more full understanding of the Community 3.0 Front Porch concept, please read the post, Front Porches.Also please follow us on Twitter at @Community3_0, and check out the main 3.0 web site.

And when you’re ready – please comment below, tell us who you are and how you think you can better the 3.0 community.


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