Anyway, my partner Matt and I decided to host a block party. We aren't overly social people, but we do want to know our neighbors. We want to have people to turn to if we need to borrow a cup of sugar (cliched, but it's definitely happened to us!), and we want to have people who will call us if they see a moving van parked in front of our house with a random stranger loading all of our valuables into it.
Oftentimes, community is built reactively. For example, we met more of our neighbors than ever before after the devastation of Hurricane Ike.
But why not build community proactively, too?
Well, it takes time, and we're all busy, aren't we? The thought of hosting a big party for strangers was admittedly a little daunting, but it was for a good cause. Therefore, we tried to host the simplest party possible.
Here's how we did it:
- We made an invitation, printed it on our home printer, and taped one to every mailbox within a three-street radius.
- We asked people to bring their own drinks, dishes to share, and chairs. We made some mini-pizzas, Hibiscus and Ginger Iced Tea, and cookies from ready-made dough that we picked up at Fiesta at the last minute. Easy-peasy.
- We decided to host the party in our front yard, which meant that we didn't really have to clean our house. We simply put some folding tables on the front porch to hold the food and drinks, and we scattered some chairs on the front lawn for folks who didn't bring their own.
- We set up a portable speaker and an iPod for some musical accompaniment.
- We moved our cars out of our driveway and used it as a makeshift Bocce Ball court.
- We set out some games (like Taboo, Apples to Apples, Boggle, and Jenga).
- We set up nametags to facilitate conversation among strangers.
Honestly, I thought hosting a block party in the middle of the week might put me over the edge, but it didn't. It was actually a very quick, painless, and fun process. I met new people, dined on scrumptious food, and enjoyed the evening.
If we can do it, you can do it too! (And if you do decide to do it, will you send me an invitation?)