Neighboring Tip of the Week – Host a get-together with your neighbors.
Good day to you!
This week, we’re thinking about block parties…actually, we’re not, we’re thinking about neighbor get-togethers!
As of recent, we have been getting a lot of feedback about the somewhat scary nature of the term “block party”. When many people hear block party, they think of having to block off the street, rent three bouncy houses, cater food, etc. If this is a common cultural notion of block parties, then of course the term is scary and people feel resistance to throwing them! So, this week, we’re thinking about a different way of framing these gatherings, and we have settled on the simple term “get-together”. Here are four simple steps for hosting a get-together with your neighbors from The Neighboring Movement co-founder Adam Barlow-Thompson:
Step 1: Keep it Simple
The first step is to KEEP. IT. SIMPLE. By keeping it simple you are making it easier for you as the host and more accessible for your neighbors to participate.
- Invite 8-10 households – There is no pressure to invite the whole neighborhood. Smaller gatherings are easier to manage and create more space for the kind of conversations that increase relationships.
- Host it outside – Invite your neighbors to bring a chair to your front yard. A circle of chairs in your yard is better than a huge event in a parking lot.
- Don’t stress about food – Food often brings people together, but it can also be stressful if you feel pressure to feed everyone.
- Avoid hosting over meal times so people don’t expect a meal.
- Encourage people to bring snacks to share.
- Make the focus on something other than food like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a fire pit, etc.
Step 2: Invite your Neighbors
Invitations can be printed or simply handwritten on scrap paper. Include:
- Your name
- Phone number
- Address, time, and date of the party
- Anything your neighbors need to bring
We recommend delivering the invitations in person by knocking on each of the doors you plan to invite. If they don’t answer the door, just leave the note on their porch or on their mailbox.
Step 3: Plan for Conversation
When your neighbors arrive, have a few questions ready to steer the conversation toward neighborhood connection. Here are some we recommend:
- What is something you love about your home?
- What is a skill or talent you have that your neighbors might not know about?
- Have you noticed a time on our block when someone has been especially neighborly?
If you and your neighbors are willing, exchange contact information. If people are participating in the 8 Front Doors Challenge, they could fill out their block map magnet at the get-together.
Step 4: Plan for a future gathering
Ask your neighbors if anyone is interested in helping plan another get-together or in joining you in connecting neighbors. Ideally, you could plan another date before your gathering ends.