The cover of the March 3 issue of the New York Times noted the passing of James Q. Wilson, a man whose name may not evoke an immediate reaction but whose work is the cornerstone on which (WEBA) (www.westendbeautification.org) was founded.
Mr. Wilson was a social scientist and Harvard researcher who, among other accomplishments, was one of the authors of the “broken window” theory. The theory states that people’s perception of a neighborhood’s safety is not based on the neighborhood’s actual crime rate, but rather whether the neighborhood “appears to be well-tended.”
Using a broken window as a metaphor, Mr. Wilson concluded that a broken window left unrepaired shows that no one cares, so when the next person breaks the next window it seems a bit less terrible, because a level of neglect has already been established. It becomes easier and easier to continue into criminality and blight because each successive transgression, while seemingly harmless in and of itself, becomes a growing pattern of neglect, for which no one feels responsible but for which everyone is responsible.
Arresting a single intoxicated person on West Beech Street, fining a dog walker who doesn’t scoop the poop, or issuing a citation for a storeowner who ignores sanitation codes may seem harsh. But failure to do anything can destroy an entire community.
, our mission statement was to “improve the aesthetic quality of life in the West End community of Long Beach, NY.” But since turning around a community takes a concerted effort by residents, businesses and the city, we began with simply planting flowers so that the neighborhood “appears to be well-tended” and shows that its residents truly care.
Please join WEBA in honoring the memory of James Q. Wilson by continuing to work towards making the West End the best it can be.
Help our efforts to bring back a Code Enforcement Officer to the West End.
Add your voice to the group of West End residents who brought their quality of life concerns to City Manager Jack Schnirman and the City Council at the .
Throw away the next piece of trash you see on a sidewalk.
And why not make today the day to fix that broken window.