Tomorrow (Tuesday, Aug 6th) is the night (many of) you have been waiting for all year: Seattle Night Out. Starting around 5 pm, your neighbors will be blocking off the streets from traffic, setting up card tables for food, maybe even running a line out for a PA system.
Casseroles, salads (lettuce and fruit-focused), pizzas (meat and vegetarian and perhaps even gluten-free), desserts (brownies and home-baked cookies, I hope) will begin to appear, along with sodas (diet and regular), two buck chuck (red and white) and whiskey (hip flasks shared surreptitiously).
More importantly, your neighbors will be there, out on the street right in front of your house, (re-)acquainting them selves with one another and, I hope, with you.
The nominal purpose behind Seattle Night Out, according to the police department, is crime reduction, and I’m sure it does that, but there are so many other benefits to building the bonds of community.
Get out there and put names with a face, and faces with houses. Find out which of your elderly neighbors might need a knock on the door next time it snows and shoveling needs doing. Discover who gets their knickers in a knot if you park too close to their driveway (and who owns that white Chevy Impala that keeps blocking your driveway). Make a plan to fight the porch pirates. Trade stories about Wally Coyote sightings. Make friends. Build community.
Look, I know there are many of you that are introverts. The idea of stepping out of your front door and making (shiver) small talk with virtual strangers causes sweaty palms, heart palpitations and perhaps a strong desire to retreat into a book or a Netflix period piece. Fight it. It will only last a few hours and you’ll be doing yourself, and your community, a favor.
If you don’t know where your closest Night Out block party is, just step outside and walk around the block. The website has a map but just because your block isn’t on it, doesn’t mean there isn’t an event going on. Many (most?) block parties don’t bother to register with the map. In my experience biking around Wallingford in past years, there are dozens more than are pictured below.