When did we stop being neighborly?

This past Friday night the Swan family did something “weird”.  We invited our entire neighborhood to our driveway for a “Block Party”!  I know there are people that would freak out to think about opening themselves up to their neighbors, but we took the “big risk”, and invited others to be our friends.  And guess what? It worked!

On Monday of last week we decided to do it.  On Tuesday after work my family and I walked the street and knocked on every door and handed out simple flyers to every house, no fancy graphics, no special paper, just the facts: 

Neighborhood Fall Block Party: Friday, Oct 8 beginning at 5:30pm

Please come join your neighbors to celebrate the pleasant weather!  You’re invited to a Fall Block Party.  Organizers are Bart and Wendy Swan and kids, (238 Karen).   

We’ll have hot dogs, chili, iced tea, and chips.  Bring anything else you want to eat or drink.  To help cover cost of food, bring 1 dollar per person.  Bring your own chair(s), and let’s have a good time getting to know each other better!  Please RSVP, to Bart and/or Wendy (and we gave our phone number)

The RSVP’s started coming in the next day and continued until Friday afternoon.  We had 40 people show up, and there were still at least 10 adults at 9:45!  The kids had a blast running through the yards, playing football, then playing with flashlights when it got dark.  Flashlight tag is always so much more fun when you have the entire neighborhood as your playground.  On Friday night several neighbors came up and said they had thought of doing something like this for years, and they thanked me for organizing it. The organizing was so easy!!!  You just need a little bit of initiative, and you’ve got a party! 

Since Friday night all of our neighbors wave and have a big smile on their face as they drive by.  Everyone is already looking forward to the next party we’ll have in April.

When I was growing up my Mom used to say, “Bart, you need to go up to people’s doors and say ‘Hi, I’m Bart Swan, will you be my friend?'”  Now, I still can’t see myself doing something like that, but I learned how to make a whole streetful of friends in one evening over hot dogs and brownies.   It made me wonder, when did it become the norm to be strangers in our own neighborhood? 

I encourage you all to try the neighborhood party on your street; even use the same invitation I put above.  If you pass out the flyers by Tuesday evening, you could have a whole driveway full of new friends by Friday night!  And neighbors who are also your friends?  Who could ask for anything better?

If you try this, please comment about your experience!

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