Our crescent still bears some signs of yesterdays block party. There are still a few tables, a few toys and a few chalk artworks adorning the asphalt. While a casual observer might have some sense that an event of some sort happened, what they could not possibly see is what was actually produced by our block party.
We played games and ate food, but the food and the activities are really just an excuse to hang out with the people we see regularly but don’t always know well. I’ve been to three local block parties now, and each time we get to know our neighbours just a little bit better. Yesterday was no exception.
When I see my neighbours in the coming week, the experience will be different than the times I saw them last week… because of the many casual conversations that seem to happen so naturally at a block party.
I found out many things about my neighbours.
I found out that block parties have been having on our crescent since 1978, when the original owners of the brand new houses began the tradition by working together to put up fences that were not provided by the building company.
I found out that the guy who I wave to on the way to work is preparing for a knee operation that means forced retirement.
I found out that two different couples on our crescent have children in Australia.
I found that one family on has a son who is on the edge of being drafted by the Major Leagues.
I found out that two families began talking to one another for the first time in a long while.
I found out that one of our neighbours is heading off to volunteer at a youth camp and needed someone to look after her lawn. (I volunteered my son).
I found out lots of things about the people who live on my crescent.
When the City asked the local churches to work together to encourage more people to get involved with block parties, it was something we could all agree on. We all know that when Jesus said “love your neighbour as yourself” he actually meant it.
What I was reminded of, as I saw couples waltzing in the middle of the street, at least partially in time to a rock and roll classic, is that loving your neighbours is a very practical thing. The bible says “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
A block party doesn’t result in everyone becoming best friends, but it does result in relationships becoming more real. It results in us knowing some of the stories behind the faces we see every day. It results in a street feeling safer, and according to research, actually being safer.
We think that St. Albert might be leading the whole world in terms of the percentage of blocks that are having parties, but we still have a way to go. If yours hasn’t happened yet, its not too late. Check out goodneighbourproject.org for more information.