Thursday, October 15, 2015

Recipe for a block party

Neighbors on Spencer Avenue (between Willow and Atlanta) host an annual block party to draw neighbors closer together, and gathered last weekend for our latest event. It is easy to pull together, so here's a summary if you would like to host your own regular event.

Find someone who can host in their front yard or long driveway. This helps make the event less intimidating for shyer neighbors and ensures that folks driving by are reminded of the event while it is happening. Other benefits of the driveway/yard location are the lighter demands on the host. Nobody has to clean their house or backyard to host the occasion. Plus, neighbors seem to feel more free to stop by just for a few minutes if they have a jam-packed day.

Create a simple flier. Our text said:
Gather with your neighbors
Join us DATE / TIME
It will be an opportunity to meet other Spencer Avenue neighbors and enjoy the fall season!

We will provide the main dish. Feel free to bring a potluck contribution or just come and hang out.
All residents welcome!
We included “all residents welcome” to ensure that renters felt included.

Make a food plan. For Spencer Ave, the two host houses supplied meat and vegetarian burgers and hot dogs, but you can set up a barbecue to have people bring their own grillables to distribute the costs.

Spread the word. After printing the fliers, we dropped them off at each home. As the date grew near, we would mention it to neighbors we encountered and ask them to spread the word. If you have email addresses for neighbors, send them a quick note.

Do some light prep. Have nametags and markers handy. We wrote first names and house number to give some context to where people live.

An optional step: create a sign-in sheet to collect e-mail addresses. After the party, send a follow-up note (our text is below as a start). This will help neighbors remain connected to each other by knowing about and using the communication channels that have been developed.

Gather and have fun!

Draft text for follow-up email

Thanks so much for joining us at yesterday’s block party! We gather each year to meet each other and have fun, so we appreciate seeing you there.

I have listed below a few ways to keep in touch with what’s happening in our neighborhood. Feel free to choose the method that best suits you.

The North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association meets quarterly, and the next meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the Word of Faith Church at Delmas and Fuller, with a CPR demonstration. The church has donated their sanctuary to NWGNA as meeting space for many years, and we appreciate their generosity very much.

And, since a few folks have asked over the years, NWGNA is not an HOA-style association. There are no dues and no rules that are established, just an awesome group of people dedicated to making and keeping our neighborhood great. NWGNA hosts several fun events throughout the year, including a holiday party with decorating contest, Party in the Park every August in Hummingbird Park, occasional neighborhood-wide garage sales, and intermittent clean-up days.

Ways to stay in touch:
North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association list: an email list since 2001 to communicate within North Willow Glen, bounded by Bird, Fuller, Willow, and Highway 87.
Subscribe by sending an email to

NWGNA Blog: occasional information about the area, plus an events calendar.
Subscribe by entering your email address where it says “Follow by Email” on the right column of the blog. Blog entries are also automatically posted to the Facebook page.

NWGNA Facebook page: a private social site for local neighborhoods. After verifying your house location, you can communicate online with North Willow Glen neighbors.

Feel free to send any questions.

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