Meet neighbors, build community, and have a blast with a summer block party
Block parties might be the best way to get out and meet your neighbors and help build community in your neighborhood. Once you know what to do, they're easy to organize and easy to throw as everyone helps to pitch in. If you've recently moved into your neighborhood, it's a great way to quickly meet everyone and start your relationship off well. Go out and make your block party your own, but here are the tools and ideas you need to get started:
Pick a date and put together a flyer
If you have a small tight knit neighborhood, reach out to your neighbors with a couple dates to see if there's a convenient time for everyone. If not, pick a Saturday when you think weather will be good. No date will work perfect for everyone, but steer clear from holidays when most people will likely have plans (4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day).
Give yourself a couple weeks minimum to put together the block party. If you let the neighbors know too far in advance, there's a good chance it will slip their minds. For your 1st block party, 2 to 3 weeks notice should be perfect.
Once you have a date, put together an easy to read flyer with all the details. Let your neighbors know when it it, where it will be located, what (if anything) will be provided, what they can do to contribute, and how to reach you if they have any questions. I'll touch on some simple ideas below that you can provide for the party to get neighbors excited. As an example, here's a flyer that I passed out for our neighborhood block party in Sunnyside.
Get a Permit to Close Your Street
The city of Portland requires a permit to close down your street. It's a surprisingly simple process. I had an approval within 10 minutes after submitting my application. You'll need to provide the city with the details of your event and a traffic control plan to show where your "street closed" signs will go. Here's where you can grab a sample flyer, traffic control plan, and submit your block party to the city.
market your block party
Nothing beats good old fashioned door knocking and leaving flyers at neighbor's door. I had an absolute blast meeting neighbors I've never met before. Everyone was excited to hear about the party and most of the people that I met showed up. Leave a flyer with them with all the details or stick a flyer in their door handle if they're not home. People like to help, let them know what they should bring: chairs, a table, yard games, drinks, food for the BBQ or to share with neighbors are all good ideas.
Nextdoor.com is a great app that connects neighborhoods. You can also post your block party on Nextdoor to easily reach neighbors that are already on the app or enlist help. I used Nextdoor to see if there were any neighborhood bands that wanted to play at out block party and lucked out with a band that was eager to help.
What can you provide for a great party?
While this is a community party with an easy shared venue, it will be greatly appreciated by your neighbors if you set-up or coordinate the basic items needed for a good party. Here's are some basic items needed for your block party:
- Plastic utensils
- Paper plates
- Plastic cups
- Water jug
- Grill for everyone to use
- Tables for food
- Yard games
- Speakers and music
If you love to entertain, here's some ideas to really liven up your party!
- Live band (there's a good chance there's a band in your neighborhood who would love to play)
- Drinks (a nice cold iced keg always goes over well)
- Inflatable pool (there's a good chance someone in the neighborhood has one they'd be happy to set-up)
You'll need to set up "street closed" barricades when your party starts. There's a couple different places in Portland to rent them, both vendors I reached out to cost $45 to rent their signs. Block Party PDX is right of Interstate Avenue in close-in north Portland.
Have a blast meeting your neighbors, getting in on the good neighborhood gossip, and enjoying the community you call home!