Sunnyslope residents recently worked together on a community lighted art installation project at Sunnyslope Village Alliance (photo courtesy of PHXLUV).

Research suggests that a high percentage of New Year’s resolutions barely last beyond January — with Americans averaging about 32 days before breaking their resolutions. There are ways to make lasting changes, the experts say, and part of that process is focusing on starting a behavior. Another top predictor of success? Consider a group resolution.

So, this Valentine’s month, perhaps it is time to set aside the failed resolutions and focus on starting something positive and joining forces with fellow residents to show some love for your community. Here are four ways to do that.

Focus on the greening of things.

Keep PHX Beautiful, a Keep America Beautiful affiliate founded in 1982, provides tools to empower communities through education, volunteer opportunities and community events.

All three of these aspects come together at their two community gardens — both of which are in the North Central area. Residents can participate in the beautification programs, “And we teach you how to do it at home, too,” said Terry Gellenbeck, the director of Recycling with Keep PHX Beautiful. “You could even garden in an apartment or a condo. There are ways of doing it. We can show you how to do that, even in our harsh climate.”

But Gellenbeck’s main focus is the Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

“It’s usually in that order,” he said “They’re all important; we’ve got to do all three.”

But it all starts with reduction, “Try to reuse a grocery bag, instead of taking plastic ones. That reduces the amount of waste that you create. Buying only the amount of food that you’re going to eat; hazardous waste, like paint, don’t buy more than what you need.”

For information on ways to achieve all Three Rs or to find an I Recycle PHX event, visit

Connect at the library.

The Phoenix Public Library system achieves its mission to “connect today’s community to a world of possibilities” through its 17 branches throughout the city, and four affiliate libraries in Central Phoenix. And as Florence Foster, a librarian at the Acacia Branch Library, said, “Libraries are more than a place to get your next great read. We are so much more than that.”

Residents can take advantage of programs such as Culture Pass, Seed Library, Interlibrary loans, free public Wi-Fi, Kids Café and an extensive eLibrary.

“The connections that I see patrons make when they visit our branch continues to be my favorite thing about libraries,” added Foster. “It is those human interactions and connections that make my work fulfilling. It can be looking up a list of books written by a favorite author, it can be a conversation for reading recommendations, it can be a conversation with a young patron about her shoes, it can be being schooled by a young patron that Chichen Itza is a place in Yucatan, Mexico, or the sense of fellowship and community that is palpable when one attends a craft program or a book club.”

The flagship Burton Barr Central Library is open seven days a week; others are open Monday through Saturday. Call 602-262-4636 or visit for information.

Attend city meetings.

Phoenix is not only the fifth largest in the country, it is one of the fastest growing cities, which can make it challenging to keep up on issues impacting neighborhoods. Residents who would like to engage with their city are encouraged to attend a City Council meeting.

Attending meetings in the middle of the day might be challenging for many but all Council and subcommittee meetings are broadcast live and recorded. They can be viewed online at For meeting agendas and information, visit

Those who are interested in learning more about housing or commercial developments in their immediate neighborhoods can attend a Village Planning Committee (VPC) meeting. The City of Phoenix is divided into 15 urban villages, each with a VPC. City staff also frequently update the VPC on neighborhood and city-wide initiatives at these meetings. Learn more at

Meet your neighbors, then do some good.

One of the best ways to help find solutions to issues impacting neighborhoods is to join forces with other neighbors.

Sunnyslope’s PHX LUV Neighborhood Association & Block Watch ( is just one of hundreds of groups across the city who are, in their words, “focused on helping make the world around us a better, happier place.”

Stacia Hurst, founder of PHX LUV, says that one of the biggest benefits of neighborhood groups is “how it changes the neighborhood. People are getting out of houses and they’re meeting each other.”

“LUV” stands for Leadership, Unity, Volunteerism, she said. “These three values really drive our stewardship roles as we collaborate with other groups and find ways to give back to the community.”

To find a neighborhood organization, a good place to start is the Neighborhood Services Department. Through Neighborhood Notification, the city provides information directly to organizations about public initiatives and meetings and obtains community input on projects that may impact their neighborhoods. Visit

“There’s no reason to not get involved,” Hurst added. “Everybody’s got good ideas. And that’s what it takes — neighbors working together to find some new ideas. Start something together…you’ve got to start somewhere.”


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