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You Can Do It! How (and Why) to Throw a Block Party

In 2018, Vanessa Elias launched Big Block Party Weekend in her hometown of Wilton, Connecticut. Her mission was to “build community one block at a time.” That inaugural weekend brought together more than 1,200 residents for approximately 40 block parties. The joy and benefits could be felt immediately and continue to grow. Wilton’s block parties are now a beloved annual tradition. 

Now Vanessa — a longtime friend, a proponent of play, a parenting coach at Thrive with a Guide — has released a free Block Party USA Guide to help us all organize block parties in our neighborhoods — starting maybe next week.

Her mantra is mine too: “Keep it simple!”

That means no decorations, party favors, persnickety anything, including food. And of course: LET THE KIDS PLAY! The big idea is to make that normal again. Kids meet kids, parents meet parents, and neighborliness gets going.

As Vanessa points out:

  • After block parties, you may see an uptick in teenagers being hired by their neighbors – a win-win! Babysitting, pet sitting, watering plants, mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow. Part-time paid work helps teenagers build agency and confidence.
  • Block parties can cultivate a culture of showing up for one another in countless ways. After a block party, a one child started decorating everyone’s mailbox for holidays, and a family with a generator offered charging in their house during a power outage.
  • When we get together face-to-face, we realize that we have more in common than we are different. Block parties all across the country are proof that neighbors may vote differently and they may disagree on many issues, but you can still laugh together and offer a helping hand. And eat!
“I founded Block Party USA as an easy way to achieve connection, civility, and community – and especially to foster free play for kids,” says Vanessa.  Even just one party a year “can have a profound ripple effect.”

Make it a pot luck and you don’t even have to cook (much)! Here’s the free guide: Party on!

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