City of Durham NIS Community Engagement

November 2017 Neighbor Spotlight- Joni Hohmeier

November 2017 Neighbor Spotlight- Joni Hohmeier


Shortly after Joni Hohmeier and her husband moved to the Landsbury/Waterbury neighborhood 15 years ago, she became a key member of the area- a kind of "central node" who keeps everyone connected in many different ways.

Joni created and manages the neighborhood list-serve, which makes it possible for neighbors to connect. Even though many neighbors are on NextDoor, the neighborhood list-serve is still the go-to way to connect with our neighbors.

She also created the Neighborhood Watch. She encourages neighbors to attend trainings and meetings and reports back about what she learned. Over seventy percent of the neighbors participated in this year’s National Night Out, which Joni organized. Efforts like these have strengthened the neighborhood’s connections with the Police Department.

Joni is also very involved with the neighborhood’s trail, which connects to Sandy Creek Park. She enjoys working on the trail, and helping others to appreciate and contribute to the project. On volunteer days, they often stop people using the trail to let them know about the trail project, and invite them to be involved. When morale runs low, Joni finds a way to bring people together and celebrate progress.

She’s seen the difference the park and trail improvements have had on her neighborhood- attracting birdwatchers, bikers, and walkers to visit and feel safe. “We come together as a neighborhood, but also as friends… Everyone knows each other, and they’re comfortable with each other.”

“We’re all interested in the same thing- keeping our neighborhood a clean, safe place. You just need a couple of people who care. Eventually, others will start asking, ‘What should I bring?’”

Joni’s advice for community engagement:

  1. Get a dog. She began meeting neighbors when she took her dog, Tess, for walks. Over the years, she’s met a lot people in the neighborhood walking their dogs.
  2. Start somewhere. It doesn’t have to be something big. It can be a simple get-together.
  3. Communicate. Spread the word- send invitations. Pass out flies (while walking your dog). Promote through your listserv.
  4. Ask. Ask folks to attend. Ask people to sign up to bring something.
  5. Be flexible. Let people participate in any manner that works best for them.
  6. Participate. Any little thing you can do to interact with neighbors is appreciated. It doesn’t have to be manual labor. Do what you enjoy doing. If you can’t load rock, bring tea for the other volunteers. Everyone chips in.

According to the Neighbor Spotlight nomination, “Joni is a genuinely wonderful person, easy to get along with, always eager to help. It is hard for me to imagine a better neighbor. She defines the inclusive and welcoming nature of our neighborhood.”


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