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Neighbor to Neighbor -- The Downtown Solution: IPNTA's Guide to Community Healing


September 11th 2001 has changed our lives both as individuals and as communities — particularly for those who call Lower Manhattan home. While we hope there will never be an event like 9-11 again, unthinkable things do happen and we must be prepared.

Independence Plaza North is only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site. On that day we rapidly mobilized ourselves to face enormous challenges. Now we want to share what we learned with our Downtown neighbors.

Though we did reach out to area neighbors who came for help, many were struggling alone. This can change. At Independence Plaza North, we were fortunate to have a strong Tenant Association structure that allowed us to organize immediately and help those who had special needs during the emergency. It took one terrorist attack to teach us that our community is the key to survival, especially when outside help is not forthcoming.

What we learned first hand, which was later verified by researchers, is that in times of difficulty, people naturally want to help others. Effective preparation and organization maximizes the benefits of this generous spirit. Neighborhood organizations save lives, shelter people, and become the center for healing. Being isolated can be dangerous. At the very least, isolation adds more stress to an already traumatizing experience.

Community is the key, even long after difficult events have passed. Block parties, residents’ meetings, kids’ play dates — these not only help develop a strong sense of neighborhood for potential crises, they enhance our everyday quality of life.

This brief pamphlet provides an easy guide toward the process, suggesting how to start, and where to find additional resources. And in it we share stories of our own experiences.

Neighbor to Neighbor combines two main themes: inspiring residents to organize their buildings, streets and immediate neighborhoods, and emergency preparedness.

Behind each is the shared goal of community resilience. We hope Neighbor to Neighbor: The Downtown Solution is a useful contribution to the neighborhoods that make Lower Manhattan so unique, and so great.

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