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The Neighborhood Connection

Summer smiles upon us and we smile back. The heart feels brighter, our step lighter, and our soul responds to the explosion of earth’s renewing life and beauty. It’s a time for planting, for walks, and casual outdoor conversation with neighbors.

Could there be a better time for a block party to re-acquaint ourselves with each other, unite the neighborhood, and share some fun?

Holding a party of this size first involves recruiting a few others to meet with you and help launch the event.

Distribute flyers or emails to let everyone know what you’re planning, and then gather volunteers to work out the details: date, time, location. Will you collect donations for beverages and meats, with each household bringing one potluck dish or dessert, or will everyone provide their own complete meal?

You’ll want to locate the gathering where neighbors who don’t care to participate won’t be disturbed. Be considerate of others if you’re planning to have music, dancing, or karaoke. Is there a cul-de-sac, a nooutlet street, or vacant lot in the area? You may need to ask permission to use your chosen spot.

Contact local authorities about the law and any necessary permits if you wish to block off a portion of the street.

Since participants of all ages will be present, activities could include tables for cards, board games, or chess; a treasure hunt, face painting and races for the youngsters. Will any of the neighbors be willing to set up badminton or croquet in their yards? Does anyone own horseshoes and stakes?

For dining, long tables rather than small ones are preferable for encouraging people to get better acquainted with those they may not know well. Guests will of course bring their own lawn chairs. If possible, arrange seating to allow greater opportunity for mingling.

And let’s not forget that Mother Nature never misses an outdoor event. Being her capricious self, she will require you to have a contingency plan in case of rain, high winds, typhoon . . . .

Setting up a registration table with name tags and a sign-in sheet for contact information will enable volunteers to create and send out a neighborhood directory afterwards.

When all plans are in place, send the invitations with all the pertinent details—date, time, place, potluck dishes needed, who to contact if they want to help with clean-up, and how any money will be collected. Add a request for tables, grills, coolers, or trash cans people can donate for the occasion.

If your event will be a couple of weeks or more in the future, send a brief reminder as the date approaches.

This should be an afternoon of relaxation, of face-to-face interaction, food and fun. Leave the politics and the electronic gadgets at home. Share the smiles. It’s love-thy-neighbor time!

Article by Constance Watkins