When Sandra Lovely, a long time New Jersey resident moved to Jersey City in 2016, she felt the home she purchased was a good investment, but also that the crime rate was relatively high in that part of the city. Sandra also knew from history that when a community comes together, they can create a safe and vital neighborhood that works for everyone.
The mechanism that Sandra was thinking about implementing in her neighborhood was a neighborhood association, based on the block associations that were popular in the 70’s and focused on local empowerment. She began to speak to neighbors, found they were interested and started to plan the organization.
“In other parts of Jersey City where crime and gun violence often make headlines, this level of civic engagement and responsibility had been a distant dream until now. The residents of Greenville and Bergen-Lafayette are taking action to mobilize their communities for improvement. They do this by ringing the doorbell of their next-door neighbors, sharing their concerns, finding common ground and forming block associations.”– Natalia Ioffe, Jersey Journal Guest Columnist
Sandra Lovely and her team work with residents of Greenville and Bergen-Lafayette to develop leadership roles and help them advocate for their neighborhood. GNAJC holds Informational workshops for residents to learn about how to set up a block association and provide ongoing support as it starts out. As of 2022, they have 25 neighborhood associations, with more interest building. The idea is simple: “Our organization’s heart is a simple belief that working together creates better outcomes for everyone involved.”
What are the neighborhoods advocating for?
“By calling out elected officials & agencies accountable for underrepresented groups along with fostering diversity through special outreach plans tailored towards those whose voices haven’t yet been heard; we’ll help build consensus among all stakeholders while generating solutions.”– Greater Neighborhood Alliance Website
GNAJC offers a variety of programs and services designed to help people connect and create that sense of community. Through food drives, college tours, community gardens, as well as an annual gala, they build the relationships between residents that are the glue that can bring about action and change. Education on the laws affecting the community’s quality of life, tracking commercial developments, identifying municipal services and other public resources, and working with parents for educational opportunities that bring civic engagement all build toward that increased quality of life.
With two active community gardens producing their first harvest in 2022, as well as tree-plantings and plans for a rain garden, Jersey City has invited GNAJC to expand their work in green infrastructure with municipal support. In addition, GNAJC is partnering with NJ Future on the Free Sewage Street & River Campaign, bringing awareness to the combined sewer system in Jersey City and the stormwater flooding as well as with Sustainable JC on the tree canopy to learn about heat islands and air quality factors.
For more information: