There is just something about sitting back in your lawn chair, in the front yard and by the fire pit, surrounded by your neighbors that does something uniquely good for the soul.
Sounds good, right!? But how in the world do you start a neighborhood gathering? Well...I used Google. That's right! I went to Google and searched "random holidays :insert current year:" and I discovered that National Good Neighbor Day was Sept 28th. So, I invited some neighbors over to celebrate it. What better day to host a hot dog roast?
You can find an entertaining holiday like "Funny Hat Day" (which naturally comes with conversation starters, am I right?) or "Talk Like a Pirate Day". Once you have decided your excuse to host a celebration, invite people! I'm talking good old fashioned pen to paper and boots to ground inviting. Get out there and personally invite your neighbors face to face.
For my gathering, I wanted to offer free grub to draw a larger crowd. So, I went to my local grocery store and loaded up on hot dogs, fixins, a few bags of chips, s'more ingredients, cookies, and apple cider. We ended up coming $40 out of pocket, but you could simplify that list. Or make it a potluck.
When it was all said and done, we had over 20 neighbors stop by our front yard to roast hot dogs and s'mores while meeting and conversing with each other. I felt so deep in community at the end of the evening. I feel confident in my neighborhood's community. I saw that they care. They enjoy doing life together. They will be there for their neighbors. They have a lot to offer. They just needed one brave soul to step past that awkward uncomfortable space of talking to strangers and extend an opportunity to gather together. Changing the lens with which I view strangers is changing my life.
I went to bed that evening feeling so refreshed and so fulfilled. It also jump-started the little hamster wheel in my mind and I've already got ideas rolling for future gatherings. Next will be a potluck evening of story telling featuring a few of the more veteran residents sharing a little bit about the history, stories, and changes they have witnessed in our neighborhood.
What ideas for a gathering are you thinking of? Here is your call to action. Pick one and run with it. Be that brave soul on your street. Cross barriers and gather with your built in community around you right where you live. You will thank yourself later and your neighborhood will be all the better for it.
- Rhonda Stevens