The Party’s Not Over – It is Just Getting Started!

Sharon March 19th, 2009

This week we’re talking about community and connections, and I’d like to suggest that those of you who don’t feel they have a strong local community should consider starting by throwing a party!  The best way to get to know your neighbors is to meet them in a social setting – you don’t have to have a “the zombies are coming, run but have a beer first” theme – that is, you don’t actually have to talk the coming changes at all.  This is mostly for getting to know people.

We’ve done this a number of times, but have fallen down on the job of running them – this summer I’m hoping to do two, one perhaps for my shul and local Jewish community in the hope of getting more people connected to the farm and maybe a rural minyan up and really running regularly, and the other for my neighbors, complete with tomato tastings, corn on the grill, meet the cute baby goats, etc… etc…

 You don’t have to do it alone – you can get other people helping. You don’t have to do it at your house if you can’t – there are often public spaces you can make use of – parks, yards, etc… It can be potluck, show off local food, show off your garden, show off nothing but your willingness to meet people.

You can have a theme – what about a clothing or toy swap? What about a cheap living party?  Garden swap – bring extra seeds and divisions of your plants.  What about a work day sprucing up the neighborhood, helping out an elderly neighbor or building something that will be resource for your whole community?  What about ice skating, caroling, softball?  Or maybe you do want to talk about preparedness issues – about local food issues, about how tough it is to keep the food in budget, about hurricanes or earthquakes or what to do if there’s another ice storm.  Remember, the point is that you are together, but not that everyone believes everything you do. 

Remember, everything goes better with music, food, beer, laughter, kids running around and playing games, adults talking to one another instead of just waving as they drive past.  Make a mix CD (my long emergency mix is probably not party material, but you can have it anyway ;-) ), bring out some food and drink (simple and cheap is fine – iced tea and brownies will do if you don’t have the time/money/energy and start putting up flyers and stuffing mailboxes.  But have the party – the more parties we get started, the better!

Sharon

10 Responses to “The Party’s Not Over – It is Just Getting Started!”

  1. Parma Powerdownon 19 Mar 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Great minds think alike. Or maybe I’m psychic. Hmmm. Which would I prefer, to have a great mind or be psychic?

    Sorry! Went off track for a moment.

    This is a great idea and one I’ve been toying with for my area. My constraint is I already have so much on my plate and I am SO alone here in my community. At least it seems that way.

    Although the paper just contacted me for an interview so maybe there’s hope of finding some other like-minded souls. I can’t be the only one here!

    But a block party is definitely on the to-do list.

    M

  2. Meadowlarkon 19 Mar 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Um, the best I can offer right now is a tiny group of officers that I’m trying to convince that perhaps things MIGHT NOT STAY THE SAME. It’s a tough row to hoe.

  3. Greenpaon 19 Mar 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Can I take this opportunity to plug the “Whole Planet Picnic”?

    #2007/06/whole-planet-picnic-time.html

    Multiple links to follow there to get the whole concept.

    It’s very much in line with what you’re talking about here, Sharon.

  4. Stephanie Hillberryon 19 Mar 2009 at 4:05 pm

    This is a very good idea, and I agree that knowing your neighbors in these times is critical. Being a bit shy, I don’t love throwing parties, but right now I think it’s worth the effort.

    I’ll be posting next week on the value of relationships during a recession, so this fits perfectly within that theme.

    Thanks as always, Sharon, for good ideas!

  5. Annaon 19 Mar 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Hey Sharon,

    You might dig this new social networking site which promotes yardsharing and gardening:

    http://hyperlocavore.ning.com/

    ~Anna

  6. NMon 19 Mar 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Our Slow Food group held a number of community potlucks last year, and they were the most popular events we held. People loved them, and we have plans to continue hosting them. But I (the chair), while fully supporting their planning, did not go to any of them, for several reasons, but partly because socializing makes me want to run away. Especially socializing with strangers.
    Ok, some days talking to people, period, makes me want to run away. This is fairly at odds with my job (reporter), and with my goal of helping create a happy future of eco-community villages. And my goal of running a CSA someday (do you suppose I could leave the vegetables in a little wooden stand at the end of the driveway?)
    And now Sharon says I must throw more parties! Talk to more people!
    Augh!
    Maybe I could fill the role of eccentric village recluse …

  7. jenon 20 Mar 2009 at 10:19 am

    A few of us neighbors on my street have been working on growing community. Our block has a mix of duplex rentals, single-family homes, and new town-home developments.

    Some ideas others might use – We had a stone soup potluck this winter… the host’s children made a fabulous invitation, everyone brought an ingredient to go in the soup pots (one veg, one meat.) The host baked bread and a dessert and I made brownies. We didn’t have a huge turnout but it was a good start. I met a few neighbors I’ve never spoken to.

    For May Day we are talking about having a mac-n-cheese/casserole bake-off, and some weekend this summer we are going to bring out 3 or 4 ice cream makers and have an ice cream social. I’m really looking forward to that one ;-)

  8. eddeon 23 Mar 2009 at 6:36 am

    Hiya Sharon,

    We connect to our whatever community we happen to live in, this one since ‘82. So the community party thing is mature and easy.

    May Day is one of our regular annual event with May Pole dance (we’ll have 20 ribbons this year), live fiddle music, dancing, sharing food & drink, etc. We may initiate the Imaginary Road House at this year’s event.

    The community will host an all afternoon & evening local music fest the following day, more food sharing, dancing, cake walks and silent auction to fund raise for a neighbor going through cancer treatment. Then on Sunday, bike church and Sunday Potluck. Whew!

    Our neighborhood also has regular Sunday potlucks, Friday night decompression get-togethers, First & third Wednesday potluck, bike church, full moon parties, conversation salons, etc. We share other holidays, too, like Easter, New Year, Mardi Gras…

    We also help each other build stuff, like our 2500 square foot community center and private house projects – work parties are easily as fun as the other kind.

    This is an actual cooperative community. There is always plenty of help available when throwing a party.

    edde

  9. Billon 07 Apr 2009 at 10:53 am

    Sharon,

    We had a block party last year, and although it did not lead to any close friendships (everybody pretty much just waves, then gets on with their busyness) my wife (also named Sharon) and I are still motivated to have another, but for the purpose of identifying those who would be good people to know if (when?) the poop hits the fan.

    Our beans, bullets and bandaids, for example, will get us through the first six months or so. After that, we’re in trouble — deep trouble — because we will be compelled to join a larger group of like-minded people to pool our resources and survival skills.

    But there’s the rub — like-minded people. It’s wise to establish groups like that before a crisis occurs, but four decades of being a survivalist has taught me to be very careful about discussing survival on any level with anyone.

    Perhaps I have been reading too many end-of-the-world novels, or taken them too seriously, but even the poorly written ones reflect the way real people have reacted when poop has hit the fan in the past. So I tend to see them as a pretty accurate picture of how some of my friends and neighbors might react if my preparation is common knowledge when the big poop hits the big fan.

    You suggested WWII was a good model of cooperation among people from all walks of life when they have a common enemy to fight. But during the war (please correct me if you know otherwise) most stores remained open, water flowed from faucets, lights didn’t go out and hungry gangs weren’t roaming the streets with an attitude and an appetite for violence.

    Today, we have once again met the enemy, but this time he is us. So it’s likely that many of those who are now quite civil and friendly with one another will see their neighbors and even close friends as a resource, not as an ally.

    Paranoid? Perhaps, but not if an angry father really IS coming up my driveway to take my stuff so he can feed his family at the expense of mine. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    Neighborhood “block” parties might be a good way for strangers to meet and explore the possibilities of cooperating with one another in a crisis, but even a short-term crisis is no party, and when things get really bad, I’d like to know the people I’m yoked with very very well…

    Are they prepared? If not, is it likely they will take a pro-active attitude toward getting prepared? Are they more likely to behave like a victim or like a survivor when SHTF?

    If they know I am prepared, how likely is it that they would act like Freddy the Free Loader? Or ask me to help them get their act together?

    Have you ever seen them using tools around the house? Or do they almost always call a plumber or a handyman to fix or build stuff?

    Have you been to their house for dinner? Did they prepare a healthy, well-balanced meal? Or fancy shmancy stuff aimed at making a keep-up-with-the-jones impression rather than nourishing you and your family?

    Are they conservative or liberal in their attitude towards outsiders, beggars, people in need?

    How do they handle little problems like their car not starting on a cold morning or a leak in the roof on a rainy day?

    Do they have a pistol or a rifle? Is it likely they would be reluctant to shoot somebody who was shooting at them?

    Will their core beliefs, values and principles harmonize or conflict with yours when the group must agree on something really important for the group’s survival?

    What evidence do you have that they would change the way they think and act to ensure there IS a tomorrow — the one they want, not the one handed them by circumstances or corrupt leaders?

    Would they roll up their sleeves and begin to rebuild America from the bottom up? Or wait for the government to bail them out from the top down?

    Maybe none of these questions are answerable with any certainty until the poop really does hit the fan, and then I suppose it would be a wise to know a few neighbors who are preparing for the worst while hoping for the best — ones we’re pretty sure are not only serious about surviving but ones who won’t get crazy when the world around them gets crazy (crazier than it is now).

    Prepared, but worried…

    bill

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