Recently, we at CONO celebrated our relaunch with a new name, logo and updated mission. We are now simply CONO — Building Neighborhood Networks.

Our mission is to strengthen neighborhoods through community engagement, education and trust-building. And our vision at CONO is our dedication to helping create an interconnected region full of strong and diverse neighborhoods.

These are the things we talked about at our December open house. If you missed it, don’t worry. We are coming to a neighborhood near you to talk about how we can help you strengthen your neighborhood and inspire those around you to get involved in the issues facing your community.

CONO wants to give you a voice when it comes to decisions that impact your neighborhood.

So we’re going to host a series of conversations with you and others to learn what’s important to you and find common ground with others.

Expect questions from me such as:

  • What do you value in your neighborhood?
  • What do you want more of in your community? (Such as trails, connections, local businesses, walkable neighborhoods, safe and accessible neighborhoods.)
  • Do you have any neighborhood-related topics?

So how do we get these conversations going? I have a few ideas.

We’re going to start by hosting a monthly “Community Connect!” series.

Each month, CONO will tour the region with local elected officials and invite everyone to join us for a conversation. We’ll meet at different locations including community centers, apartment clubhouses and more.

We will bring your city council member and county commissioners to these meetings so you’ll have a chance to ask questions, give input and meet your neighbors.

We plan to host our Community Connect meetings on the third Thursday of each month. They will last 90 minutes, from 4-5:30 p.m., and we’ll provide refreshments. Watch the CONO website, cscono.org, for details.

Additionally, given the hundreds of homeowner associations across the Pikes Peak region, we see the need to educate people on their rights and what it means to live under neighborhood covenants.

So CONO will launch a monthly Pikes Peak HOA Network Education Series. HOA expert Andrea Jones from LINKS Management Solutions will provide monthly education for HOA-specific information and networking. Look for these meetings on the second Thursday of each month at 5:30-6:30 p.m.

On March 15, CONO will kick off its Neighborhood University. This 10-week course is designed for those who want to be eligible to serve on their Neighborhood Network board. A Neighborhood Network is the larger geographic area where Neighborhood Plans are being created. This is a network to help your voice be heard by decision-makers and make it more accessible for you to get information and for leaders to connect with you. Watch the CONO website for details of registration, coming soon.

Longtime CONO supporters will be happy to know we still plan to sponsor our popular neighborhood Block Parties and Clean Ups.

These events are a great way to meet neighbors and build the kind of relationships that lead to strong and connected communities. CONO will continue to facilitate permitting and barricade rentals for your neighborhood party and we will grant neighbors one roll-off dumpster per year.

Besides all the benefits to the community, these activities are simply fun. Creating connections on your block helps you feel safer and form a bond so you can rely on each other, and less on our city resources. Collect phone numbers and email addresses and create a communication channel.

One final CONO initiative I want to mention is our new mapping tools. One of our contracted staff, Nicole Odell, has helped create a map that is interactive so you can type in your address and learn about your neighborhood name, your City Council representative and county commissioner contact information, your crime prevention officer and more.

Please sign up for our newsletter and register in our Neighborhood Census so we can notify you of land use applications, and more in your area

As always, I welcome your input. Please email your thoughts to me, sara@cscono.org.

Sara Vaas has been executive director of the Council of Neighbors and Organizations since July and served from 2015-2019 as assistant director.

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