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.
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:
- The United States is lonely. Block parties offer social connectedness. A survey of American adults by the Harvard Graduate School of Education found 36% feeling lonely “frequently” or “almost all the time or all the time.” To address our nation’s epidemic of loneliness, the Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, released The Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community.
- 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!
Make it a pot luck and you don’t even have to cook (much)! Here’s the free guide: BlockPartyUSA.org. Party on!