National Night Out
Last night, something special happened on my street in East Oakland. My neighbors and I stepped out of our houses and shared a meal with the people who live on their street. Some people met for the first time, others have been friends for decades.
Some people have lived on the block since the '60s. Our newest neighbors moved in just 3 months ago, about the time that our youngest neighbor was born. The block as seen a lot of changes in the last few years, as families were caught up in the foreclosure crisis that has affected so many blocks in Oakland and across the country. But new families are starting to move in, and were happy to have the chance to meet their new neighbors.
I'm blessed to live on a street that reflects the diversity of Oakland -- babies, kids, parents and elders and people from all different ethnicities. And all you have to do is give people a reason for them to come together, share a meal and talk about how to improve our community.
We heard from our city council member that there were 73 block parties in our district alone. More than 600 events registered with the City. People that don't live in Oakland might want to write it off as a lost cause, with insurmountable challenges. But what I saw last night proves otherwise. The sense of community in Oakland runs deep and can overcome our challenges, it just needs more ways to express itself.
It was surprisingly easy to bring people together. We just printed out some flyers and went and knocked on people's doors. We went back a week later and left a reminder flyer. And then talked to people when we saw them passing by. And we didn't do it alone. Our next door neighbors have lived on the block for 40 years, and they reached out to the people they've known for years, and brought a historical perspective of what's possible when neighbors come together. If you're thinking of hosting a block party, it helps to find another household to spread the word.
So if you missed this year's National Night Out, make sure not to miss it next year. But don't wait until next summer -- you can start to meet your neighbors now. You can reach out now, whether it's by meeting your next door neighbor or finding out who hosted your a block party in your neighborhood and adding yourself to the email list.
And if you did host or attend a block party, thank you. I'd love to hear your own National Night Out experience in the comments section below!
Now let's keep the momentum going and work together to make our neighborhoods better.
Aug 14, 2013
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