Kaid Benfield Archive


Block parties - mini-festivals of community

Kaid Benfield

Posted September 8, 2009 at 1:20PM

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It rained on my neighborhood's block party yesterday.  That was unfortunate, but not particularly noticed by the community's many children.  It's nothing fancy, just neighbors, kids, a moon bounce, lots of shared homemade food and drink, face painters, a little one-block parade, and so on.  It's an annual event that brings us together, and I suspect lots of neighborhoods across the country had similar homegrown events this weekend or maybe over another weekend during the summer.  They are great, simple fun, as these photos from Portland, Grand Rapids, and Philadelphia attest:

  block party, Portland (by: JAGwired, creative commons license)  block party, Philadelphia (by: Kyle Gradinger, creative commons license)

  block party, Grand Rapids (by: Paul Hart, creative commons license)  block party table, Portland (by: JAGwired, creative commons license)

But these little get-togethers are also more than just fun:  they knit us together, make civic interaction possible, and help keep our cities healthy and sustainable.  In that vein, Streetfilms and Streetsblog NYC have put together a neat little video that celebrates the block party as manifestation of community.  Enjoy:


From the accompanying blog entry:

"When neighbors know one another, they know who belongs on the street and are more likely to respond to suspicious activity. [One] examination of the effects of family ties shows that respondents who know more families in their neighborhoods are more likely to engage in neighborhood improvement activities; block parties facilitate the creation of those relationships."