A quick note, if you landed on this page before reading WE THE (VILLAGE) PEOPLE, you might want to take five minutes and read that first, it will provide a bit more context. Although, if you really want to work finding the implied main idea, then it’s all you, have at it.
How great are my neighbors? How much better is not planning party planning? Oh, let me count the ways. No really, I’m counting, here they are:
While many of the residents of my street have been here for a while, very few actually knew each other. This, I was determined, was going to change.
To get the word out for a block party I made a flyer with the basic details and a link to a google doc. The kids and I delivered these to every house in the two block vicinity of our house (yes, two blocks, not one. Don’t judge, it’s a long story). As a funny aside, let me just mention that when you roll up on someone’s porch in yoga clothes armed with a clipboard, stack of papers and two wild animals, I mean, darling children, people get confused. Maybe next time I should wear real pants . . .
In any case, as a result of my effort to things rolling I learned that:
1. Kids are quite handy. They a) love to help and b) people don’t like to say no to sweet little faces. That said, honestly kids really make the neighborhood, a neighborhood. Ours is crawling with them, in swarms, and we just figured that out as result of this walk. There are babysitters or potential friends in just about every other house. SCORE.
2. One of my neighbors works for a printing company. She took the flyer, added a QR code with the link to the google doc, had them reprinted in color and offered to help me distribute round two. Um… YES PLEASE!
I was also supposed to get a permit to close one of the two blocks down. Check this out:
3. I didn’t know where to start and I had limited time on my hands to research, so as a shortcut I threw a line out on Facebook. BOOM. Not ten minutes later and I had a permit application in my inbox from a helpful acquaintance. thankyouverymuch social media networks.
4. While gathering signatures for the permit, I found my neighbor trying to get her new baby to sleep so we joined forces and collected autographs, kept each other in good company and got her little dude to crash out by the end of the first block. By my count, that’s a triple play.
5. I maybe, kind of, sort of did not get that permit submitted as quickly as I might have. I turned it in anyway, late, but was expecting that we’d probably end up in my backyard instead of in the street. That whole optimist preparing for the worst bit sneaking up on me there.
But, nope, no need for plan B. Surprise! Ping, ping, that’s my inbox, on my phone, at 4:45 Friday afternoon announcing that I just received a permit from the city. Wait what? Yep/ Since I was super humble, apologetic and nice, the universe responded by connecting me to a lovely lovely woman at the city department who via e-mail (as in- I did not have to stand in a single line, ever) totally handled it. For only $25 and maybe four e-mail exchanges I got a permit to shut.it.down.people. Like all official and shit.
6. When the time came, I did not have any actual physical barriers, or even caution tape on hand (shocker) to block the street off, so I improvised. And by improvised I mean I parked my car across the end of the street.- dead center (I was tempted to right “hit me” on it, but I thought that might invite trouble . . . ). But then as luck would have it, one of my neighbors rolled out with cones and real barricades and solved the problem for me. Thank you neighbor. Thank you universe.
I was hoping to have some kind of entertainment so we weren’t all standing there staring at each other over pie but I also didn’t want to spend a bunch of time and money doing it, so:
7. I asked a friend of mine if he wanted to put on a little one man show for the afternoon. This resulted in our having a legit DJ for the night, great live music and later… karaoke, (and like, with people who can actually sing (so yeah, not me, obviously).
8. Some neighbors brought a ping pong table out into the street. Yes, a ping pong table. In the middle of the street. Need I say more?
9. Things like chairs, tables, bamboo decorations, games, crockpots and more extension cords than I’ve seen since last Christmas just appeared. All over. Like from the time I went inside to grab a tablecloth, suddenly we had hot soup, main dishes, side dishes, desserts, drinks, lights, places to sit and just, well, a whole lot of awesome achieved with zero preparation.
10. The kids just instantly entertained each other. The older ones helped the younger ones, no one got hurt, there were no ER visits, no crying, no complaining, no arguing even. Just fun (and possibly some substantial sugar intake because there was also very limited supervision of the dessert table).
11. Two sets of neighbors own portable fire pits. Add those chairs that just kept magically appearing from people’s porches and yards and TA-DA – official fun party status- achieved. Because besides the fourth of July, when else do we play with fire in the street? Nailed it.
This is hardly the end of the list but I think I’ve made my point. Our little community of strangers, with minimal advance effort made it happen, and happen well; collective efficacy at its most simple and efficient form.
How very wonderful to see so much joy, so much positive energy, just waiting to be given. These are the memories, the moments, the experiences, that remind us that it really does take a village, that life is better when shared, and that there is goodness in people everywhere.
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