My neighborhood, as I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, is perhaps the greatest ever. Really. I live in North Tacoma, and I enjoy what seems to be the greatest community in existence. As you would expect from any top-shelf neighborhood, we are having our block party this evening. After all, it is the official “Night Out” day where you are supposed to get out and rub elbows with the people near you. Familiarizing yourself with the people living nearby just may come in handy if a big earthquake, power outage, flood, or something like Red Dawn should occur.
Everyone from blocks around heads out into the middle of the street (we close it down with big signs and everything) and we fire up a couple bbq’s, set up dessert and condiment tables, tables and chairs for eating, a guestbook… you know, everything. If you aren’t doing this in your neighborhood, start organizing it now for next year. You’ll be surprised how little effort it takes when several people work together. There is a donation box at our gathering where people drop a couple bucks in to pay for the Costco supplies. It only cost about $120 for all the burgers, dogs, buns, chips and plates we need to feed about 100 people. Based on the first letter of their last names, participating neighbors bring either sides/salads or desserts, and suddenly you have a full-on spread capable of feeding an army.
We have a preliminary planning meeting months before the big day to make sure everybody’s still on the same page, and to gather new ideas for fun and entertainment after all the food has been consumed. We have tried things like bingo, group kazoo performances, sidewalk chalk, homemade putt-putt golf holes.. We’ve even been graced by local firemen and their trucks, neighborhood unicycles, music groups.. the list goes on and on.
The big picture or overall goal is to reduce crime by strengthening the community fabric in every corner of the city. While this is great, I prefer to focus on meeting new neighbors and re-acquainting myself with neighbors I already know but don’t see much during the “dark” months. This reminds me: name tags! Crucial! It’s outstanding not to have to play the “I forgot your name” game. Splat your name tag proudly on your chest and make sure you write in big letters. You’ll be seeing the theme song to Cheers! in no time flat.