Despite the rain, we had 45 people attend our 3rd annual block party here in Lexington Close, on Saturday night.
We have a total of 54 individuals living in 17 homes on our street. We have the typical mix from families with young children or teenagers, alongside empty nesters and seniors. We had a couple families that the parents chose to stay home but the children came for the food and games. We also had 5 individuals visiting at 2 different homes so it was good to see them come out as well. Thankfully our neighbours next door keep a very tidy garage which is where we set up when the heavens opened. The winner of the annual game is presented with a prize and also responsible to plan and organize the game for the following year.
We had two families move into our close in recent months so it was a good way for them to meet their neighbours and to put names to faces.
Since we started hosting our annual block party 3 years ago, we have watched people come out of their comfort zones and socialize with those around them. Its not uncommon to see neighbours help each other out in time of need. Our family has been intentional in asking for assistance when it comes to running out of icing sugar or eggs for example, needing a specialized tool or needing another body to assist in lifting something. In turn, neighbours ask us to assist them and the favour is returned but more importantly, relationships are built. One of the statements that we heard over and over last night was: “we really have great neighbours” which was followed by nods and smiles.
Honestly, our neighbourhood rocks and the people on our street are the best!
This past Friday night I had been invited by the City of St. Albert to roast coffee downtown and share the Good Neighbour Coffee stories that I place on the back of the retail packages. First of all its an honour to be asked, then to find they closed the street down, created space for live music and invited the mayor to speak. His message was about the value of neighbouring in today`s individualistic society. He highlighted the fact that their city exceeded 130 block parties this year, compared to 10 five years earlier. And then I began to meet and greet a line of people who were very interested in the full story of those represented on the back of the coffee bags. Most people love the custom live roasting, but they also fell in love with the true stories that represent what our neighbourhoods can do! A few submitted stories from their neighbourhoods for future coffee bags (coming soon). And throughout the evening, the message of good coffee was trumped by the message of loving our neighbours and neighbourhoods. – Beautiful!
Thanks for the opportunity!
A Counterintuitive but Practical Way to Love Your Neighbours
Developing relationships of trust with our neighbours takes considerable time, but we are seeing the fruit of our labour. For example, when some of our neighbours go away on vacation, they will often ask us to check their houses while they’re away. This isn’t a glamorous job my any means, but it reveals some trust, and it gets us into a neighbour’s home. I would have never thought of this as a way to love my neighbours, but after doing it a few times, I believe it is, as it allows them to go away with a measure of peace. And we also ask them to check our home when we’re away, so we can continue to build our relationship. I’m thankful for such counterintuitive but practical ways to love our neighbours.
submitted by a Neighbourhood Life participant from Lacombe
They came from one end of the block to the other. It was a good, old-fashion, block party on Thursday night. “What was so neat was that I met so many new people,” said one participant. And there were countless number of kids. One parent remarked that her nine-year old was worried there wouldn’t be anyone to play with. “There was never any need to have worried about that,” she said. A basketball hoop, a trampoline, several badminton racquets, skateboards, a football, lawn games and food kept kids and adults entertained for the evening. Rick Abma and Neighborhood Life provided the commercial barbeque, while families brought their own steak, hot dogs and hamburgers. Salads and desserts were also provided for this potluck meal. In the end there was great fellowship and excellent food as many folks chatted the evening away and got to know each other from various areas on the block. The event was so successful that organizers are looking to having another block party soon.
Submitted by a resident of Lacombe.
The past 3 years have led to the writing of this, soon-to-be-released, book. Filled with experiences and stories from various practitioners, this ‘recipe book’ increases the imagination of the person who desires to invest in their local neighbourhood as a response to God’s command to love our neighbours. Various neighbourhoods have collaborated to add seasoning and flavour as we are challenged to be salt and light as participants in the Kingdom of God. Darkness will be chased away by the light!
Inspired by the concept, in my previous neighborhood, my wife and I decided to invest in a seating area – not in the back yard, but in the front yard. It became a place where I’d go to sit in the morning or evening to have a cup of coffee, read a book, etc. Because it was in the front yard, neighbors would say hi and come and have a seat. Many wonderful conversation happened there, and in a small way, I think we enriched the sense of community in our neighborhood by contributing that space. I’ve done something similar where I live now … putting a simple bench out front that says, “Feel free to stop by and chat.”
This article from Mustard Seed Associates does a wonderful job of helping you imagine how your front yard can become a place of hospitality, connection, friendliness, and grace.
It’s a simple thing, but simple things add up, you know?
One of the ways we are seeking to connect with our neighbours is through lawn mowing. My twelve year old son has a small mowing business. He calls himself “The Neighbourhood Mower.” So, every spring he goes around the neighbourhood with his business flyer, offering to mow people’s grass. Not too many take him up on his offer, but regardless, it allows us to connect with our neighbours in a practical way. I go with him on his rounds, and strike up a conversation about things other than mowing. And then usually those conversations continue and are deepened if that neighbour becomes a client. Building relationships with neighbours isn’t the only reason we mow grass. My son appreciates the money, and I appreciate the work experience it is giving him. But one of the blessed results of this sort of small business activity is the opportunity to form relationships with your neighbours. How are you serving your neighbours?
- Neighbourhood Life participant
In the next couple weeks our city will experience “5 day club” in which neighbourhoods become central to gathering children and their families for backyard teaching and fun. Trained leaders join the host family in ones neighbourhood to help this along smoothly.
What is a 5-Day Club?
5-Day Club is an exciting, fun-filled hour held each day for five consecutive days. It includes:
- dynamic Bible lessons
- creative learning activities
- inspiring missionary story
- meaningful songs
- life-changing Scripture memory.
Who can attend?
5-Day Club is open to all boys and girls between the ages of five and twelve, regardless of religious background. You are welcome to attend the club with your child.
Who teaches a 5-Day Club?
Christians who are concerned for the spiritual well-being of your child teach the club. These teachers have received specialized training from CEF®.
Is there a cost?
There is no charge for your child to attend. An optional missionary offering will be taken each day.
See more at: http://cefcanada.org/5-day-clubs.html
Today I had the privilege of preaching at the combined church service for Lacombe Days. I chose I Peter 1 as a way to understand how we are, “chosen, scattered and strangers” (v.1).
I referenced John McKnight, who spoke in Edmonton last month on how we should live out of our abundance. He shared six neighbourhood necessities:
- Safety/Security – If we know the names of our those who live in our neighbourhood and simply spend more time outside instead of inside, we add more safety than doubling the police force.
- Help – the one who belongs and lives life among neighbours will live 5 years longer than its equal who does not.
- Environment/Food – If ever a neighbourhood would have an understanding of their ecological impact, they would do more than any program. For example, reducing waste.
- Enterprise -Most all businesses start in a local setting, enhancing the opportunities of our neighbours. for example, the boy who starts to fix bicycles across the street.
- Children -The most important asset. Everyone agrees, it takes a village to raise a child….not an institution.
- Care – Institutions can only make ‘caring’ a word. Institutions are held together by money whereas community is held together by care.
Recently I made the rounds in our neighbourhood with one of my neighbours. He and I (and our families) take the lead on organizing the annual blockparty on our avenue. Handing out invitations is a great opportunity to connect with our neighbours, so I always appreciate this annual tour. Except for one stop. One of our neighbours is, shall we say, a bit on the grumpier side, so I confess my reluctance to knock on their door. But it must be done, as we want all of our neighbours to feel that they belong. So, we took a deep breath as we approached their house. To our surprise, we were warmly received. I’ve had a number of conversations with this neighbour, but this is the first pleasant one. We walked away wondering what had just happened. In the end, we thanked God for a positive encounter with this neighbour. Sometimes I tend to write people off, thinking they will never change. But every once in a while God surprises me. I’m glad this time the surprise came in the context of our neighbourhood. I look forward to our fifth annual block party.
Submitted by a Neighbourhood Life participant.