If you've never stopped by her space (go, go, go!), Amy writes honest and true words about living others-focused, words that need to be written. Her writing constantly encourages and reminds me how to love well. Amy is a mom, teacher, fellow Northerner-turned-Southerner (we have to stick together), but I know her as friend. Someone who engages people and welcomes community in many forms.
Spend a few minutes with her today as she talks community, neighborhood block party style.
I started noticing the handmade signs around our neighborhood two weeks before the big block party.
Expect the street to be blocked off!
Expect an enormous amount of food!
Expect to get to know your neighbors!
Expect fun from 1:00-5:00!
I’ve wanted to host a block party since we moved in, but with the size of our neighborhood, the planning seemed daunting. However, attend a block party? Now, that I could do.
The party day arrived, and it was a perfect mix of fall sunshine and a gentle breeze. My girls and I pulled up to the orange cones blocking off the street. Where were the people? Did I have the right day?
The rocket pops I brought started to drip, and my kids wiggled out of their seatbelts. Slowly, we made our way out of the car. Maybe if we took our time, a slew of people would show up in the next three minutes.
Under a large maroon tent, I saw eleven people seated in camping chairs. I know there were eleven people because I counted them as we walked up. Ten adults, one teenager, and zero kids.
Bubbling crockpots lined long tables and full coolers sat untouched in the shade. Party-goers jumped to give us seats, and we joined the small circle.
My four-year-old repeatedly asked where all the games were, and my ten-year-old fielded nonstop questions from strangers like a pro.
But where were the rest of our neighbors?
Two yards over, I saw a woman sitting on her front porch, and in the house beyond hers, a man pushed a sputtering lawnmower around a tiny patch of grass. Neighbors. Neighbors who were home, but neighbors who chose not to attend.
The block party hosts were outstanding, and at the party, I met people who recently moved to town from Germany. I snagged a teenage babysitter, and I ate too many pumpkin muffins with homemade icing drizzled on the top. Strangers doted on my kids, and hundreds of dollars of food sat untouched.
As my girls and I drove home, I passed at least a dozen people outside enjoying the fall day, and I decided rule number one in creating community was easy: show up.
Go to the event, even when you don’t feel like it. Meet someone who is reaching out. Community forms when you leave your yard.
Too often, the world complains about how disconnected society has become, but if you ask me, it’s not because of social media, multiple jobs, or overscheduled kids. It’s because we forget to show up.
Today I pray you see an opportunity, and you decide to show up.
What about you? Do you tend to avoid or embrace community gatherings?
Bio: Amy L. Sullivan writes and writes. In August of 2014, her first book will be released. She is pretty darn excited.