Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Everyone No Shows a Block Party

Today’s a good day. My friend Amy Sullivan is here to talk about what it means to show up. So first of all, I want to thank you for showing up. You'll be glad you did. It's hard not to like Amy.


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.
Here’s Amy:


 
:::
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.

No luck.

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.

image credit

29 comments:

  1. That made me so sad for the people who planned the get together! I know there is a lesson there...show up...but, having been someone who planned a get together and had very few show, the lesson I learned was, don't bother.

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    1. Lisa,
      Oh, you know, it was sad, but I don't think I'm at the "don't bother" stage yet. I'm at the "Why wouldn't you show up?" stage. People crave relationships, but seem to forget how to have them.

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  2. First, I agree..it's hard not to love Amy! Oh and this hit me Amy because this shy one can be quick to not show up because parties can be out of my comfort zone. Such good words and ones I will need to remember. Blessings to you and your family for being ones to show up. And thank you for your always amazing heart. Love you.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! I appreciate your sweet words. You know, you bring up a good point. Shy people! I often forget about them because I'm not shy at all, but I know for some, showing up at a place where they don't know anyone can be tough.

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  3. What a shame. I read a blog recently about attending funerals. The point was the importance of just being there. The author talked about the under-attended birthday party, the baby shower, etc. Just go. Just be there. I'm adding neighborhood block parties to the list, though my husband is a pro at just being. He's taught me all I know. Once we drove 7 hours to a funeral.

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    1. Gaby, I know the piece you are talking about because I LOVED that write on funerals. About a month ago, I wrote about attending a funeral and how my mom always said I should, and someone directed me there. I think it was through NPR. Driving 7 hours to a funeral seems like a lot, but I bet the people you showed up to see felt very loved. Good job for your hubby.

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  4. Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, Jen. You strike me as a show up kind of girl!

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  5. This is a great post. Very convicting because I've been on both sides of that scenario. Being part of planning or serving at an event and just praying for a good turnout. And also making excuses for not showing up for things I didn't feel comfortable enough to attend due to the protests of my inner introvert. Thank you for the reminder of the importance of "showing up." I want to do more of that.

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    1. Angel, Thanks for reading and for relating. I have been on both sides too!

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  6. Oh, I get this... the battle of the inner introvert. Any other secret introverts out there? This sometimes stops me from choosing to show up, but my inner introvert usually loses because it's almost always worth it to go.

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    1. I'm not an introvert at all, but where I get stuck is I like to hoard time. I feel like being a wife, mom, full time employee, friend, daughter...all of it, just makes me want to hold every minute close. Honestly, I bet it's the same way some people hold money.

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  7. Love Amy and her heart! While I'm not an introvert, I've thrown get-togethers and not had others show up. And for a girl who thrives off friends, my heart was crushed. Maybe we can all step up and engage life more -- showing up!!! http://positivelyalene.com

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    1. Alene,
      I think you nailed it. It's about "engaging in life more". That's it. Good summary.

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  8. Oh, my heart ached for the people throwing the party. I am an introvert but I show up because I know now how important that is. And I always leave with a new friend:) Thank you Amy for showing up!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Kris!
      I can see that about you. You always showing up with a new friend. It's funny how even though you proclaim yourself an introvert, you always reach out.

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  9. "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." Maybe I should tape this up to my computer as a reminder. I am always thankful when I choose to go. I only have regrets when I choose to stay home. Love your words Amy. Nice to meet you Julie!

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    1. Mindy, I feel the same way when I ditch an event...if I stay home, I usually regret it. Thanks for reading and thanks for reaching out to otheres online.

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  10. Thanks for sharing your words with us, Amy. You're the best!

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    1. Julie,
      Thanks so much for the invite. I so enjoy working with you on posts and projects! Here's to more fun...clink, clink.

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  11. Amy, the loss is for those that did not show up. I am lucky that I have lived in a neighborhood that has block parties twice a year and everyone makes it a point to show up. It is so much fun to catch up on new adventures,children, grandchildren and what is new and happening on the block. Maybe it is because most everyone in our neighborhood has been there 15 plus years. We usually have two or three new neighbors every year and we go all out to make them feel comfortable. I will say that we have a few neighbors that have never attended and never will. It is their loss sadly. It is surprising to me that social media has replaced talking face to face with neighbors, friends and family. If I had an emergency I would feel comfortable calling on my neighbors, would you?

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    1. Judy,
      I love that you love your neighbors and that they are important to you. Would I feel comfortable calling my neighbors? Yes, yes! Recent calls have included the following statements:

      -Do you have salsa I can have?
      -That bear is in my yard again!
      -I know you are gone, but can I get into your house with your hide-a-key? I need some diced tomatoes.
      -Please come over and have some tea.
      -Send your kids over. I miss them.

      Neighbors rule. People who don't know this miss out.

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