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The Art of Neighboring

A neighborhood block party is the opportunity for neighbors to get together, meet each other, have fun, and maybe work together on a common activity. Check out the below guide to hosting your own block party or you can download the guide to print. We've also provided "The Art of Neighboring" Bingo Card. Download the card below and use it as a fun way to get to know your neighbors!

Download Block Party KitDownload Bingo Card

Neighborhood Block Party Kit

An Easy How-To Guide to Organize a Neighborhood Block Party

7 Reasons to have a Block Party:

  • To provide an opportunity to know your neighbors and where they live
  • To increase a sense of belonging within your community
  • To learn a little about each other and know who might need a little extra help from time to time
  • To meet neighbors on your block and the skills you offer one another. They might be able to help you with a gardening problem or lend you a needed ingredient for a recipe
  • To help with safety/ crime prevention by knowing who lives around you
  • To develop an opportunity to meet some of the older neighbors and learn about your community's history
  • To have fun! No excuses or reasons are needed to celebrate

Planning Your Neighborhood Block Party

Things to consider when organizing your event:

  1. Getting Started
    - The idea of a neighborhood block party is to bring neighbors together. It's a good idea to find 1 or 2 neighbors to help you with the event.
    - One can take the "Lone Ranger" approach, and it can be a great event. However, it may make it more difficult to find someone else to organize it next year.
    - If this is the first time you may want to send out a flyer to explain what a Block Party is, encourage attendance, perhaps share some of hte benefits, get opinions on how to handle the food, and pssible dates and times to have the event.
    - Enlist as many neighbors as you can to help out. Someone can type the flyer; someone else can collect them. You may want to ask some kids to drop the flyers in the mailboxes.
  2. Types of Block Parties
    Which type of block pary will work best in your neighborhood? Try not to go overboard, it can make people feel the event is too much work...keep it simple!
    1. Barbecues- organizers purchase all that is needed and neighbors provide the money; everyone brings his or her own meat
    2. Picnics - everyone brings their own meal
    3. Pot luck - everyone brings one dish
    4. Catered - everyone shares the cost and food is purchased
  3. How Big to Make It
    - Start off with a smaller event rather than a large one. It can always grow, but it's hard to shrink it.
    - In selecting who to invite, use natural neighborhood boundaries where possible (i.e. end of block). If you are planning a street or cul-de-sac party, you need to invite everyone from that area.
    - Decide early and make it clear in your flyer if this will be a block party restricted to those on the street/ block or whether people can invite friends/ relatives (if yes, how many).
  4. Location
    - A neighbor's backyard
    - House
    - Garage (rainout)
    - Common room in a condo unit
    - Alley**
    - Street**
    - Park**
    **Because these locations are on public lands, an application or permit may be required. Safety needs to be an important factor in planning!
  5. City Applications and Permits
    - If you want to close down a street or re-direct traffic, your city may have application requirements.
    - Permits may also be required if the event involves a public park, alcohol consumption, sound-amplifying equipment, etc.
    - Remember that at the end of the function, public sites need to be cleaned and left in good condition.
    - Look online at your city's website and call city hall to obtain more information about the requirements where you live. Often if you search "block party" on the website you will find policies and additional resources
    **Don't let obstacles stand in your way. It is worth it!**
  6. The Timing to Get the Event Planned
    - For a first-time block party, distribute the first flyer requesting feedback 4 to 5 weeks before the event.
    - Adjustments may need to be made if a neighbor already has an event of their own planned.
    - Once you have looked at all the suggestions, the final flyer with date, time, and what to bring should go out 3 weeks before the event.
    - Mid-May to end of August is a good time.
    - A weekend date of holidy is often the best times for the event.
    - Have an alternate rainout day planned, just in case.
    - Keep in mind who lives in the neighborhood when setting the hours for the party.
    - If young children or seniors are living near the party area plan to finish by 9 pm.
  7. Getting the Word Out
    It is important to keep neighbors informed. Here are some ideas:
    1. Flyers can be used with a request to put their suggestions for the event in your mailbox.
    2. Information can be gathered from your neighbors by going door-to-door. This adds a personal touch and people often offer to help.
    3. A casual approach can be used to inform neighbors as you see them out working in their yards.
    4. Neighbors can be called on the phone. (If you don't know your neighbors, a reverse telephone directory can be used. They are available at libraries.)
    5. Make an extra effort to get your new neighbors out to the event.
    6. To reach neighbors in townhouses, apartments and condos, it is best to approach the manager. They will let you know how to get in touch with the residents.
    7. Take every opportunity to talk it up in the neighborhood as often as possible prior to the event.
  8. Role of the Organizers
    - Make decisions about the setup
    - Act as a greeter at the event
    - Introduce new neighbors and help them make connections
    - Make sure the clean-up is done. (You may wish to inspire clean-up by rewarding the children with a prize.)
  9. Set Up
    - Set up a sign-in book for records for the next year, and it can help develop a contact list for the neighborhood
    - Nametags can be a great help
    - Decide what you want neighbors to write on their name tags (i.e. - first and last names, house numbers)
    - Line up tables for the food and have a few garbage cans available
    - Decide whether you will coordinate or everyone will bring their own tables and chairs, plates, cutlery and cups, beverages. If using barbecues, who will bring them?
    - Institute a bathroom policy "everyone to use his or her own," so that home security is maintained
    - Decide of pets are allowed
    - Be ready to oversee clean-up after the event
  10. Activities During the Event
    - Visit and eat. Over the centuries, food has always had a very social component in societies.
    - Games for kids (some organized, some they can play themselves).
    - Take time to introduce one another and point to one's own house. This can be done in a game format.
    - Encourage the talent in your neighborhood to come forward, such as musicians or magicians.

Other Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbors

  • Christmas Gift Exchange
  • Garden Tour Party
  • Neighborhood Garage Sale
  • When in doubt, ask your neighbors for ideas

Final Reminders

  • Neighbors should observe security precautions by keeping back doors locked and equipment in sight.
  • Remember when setting up tables and chairs that emergency vehicles may need access.
  • You may wish to post sign the day before the event to remind everyone to remove cars for events involving street closure.

 

Posted by Alyssa Robinson at 7:00 AM
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