For anyone who has been victim to the Seattle Freeze, your dream neighborhood might just be in West Seattle. No, seriously. For nearly 3 decades one West Seattle neighborhood has organized and enjoyed a huge block party together for National Night Out.
While doing some research about NNO, I happened upon a West Seattle Blog story celebrating their community’s 2014 block parties and I recognized someone in one of the photos; it was the husband of one of my childhood friends, Sue Riss Daley. Surprised and amazed I knew someone who was doing this, I quickly reached out and asked Sue a few questions about her neighborhood’s NNO:
How did your NNO block party first get started?
As of June we’ve lived in our home for 30 years. Back then we were the newcomers (and newlyweds) and now we’re the old-timers! We’ve been hosting/planning a NNO block party for the better part of those 30 years. I can’t remember exactly when we started – but if I remember correctly, our oldest son was in a portacrib for our first event, and now he’s 22!
Back in the day we had quite a mix of original owners and newcomers so we thought that NNO would be the perfect opportunity to get to know each other. We average about 85% attendance rate!! You cannot imagine how terrific that is to have almost EVERYONE on the block show up to hang out together.
What do you love most about your NNO block party?
We really love catching up with everyone. Our lives are so busy, it’s nice to have time set aside to visit, and not just be driving by and yelling out the car window! We have a terrific neighborhood, we really like each other. We feel safe because everyone knows everyone. We keep an eye out for each other, for our oldest neighbors and for our kids.
As you can see in the photo from last year’s event (above), we always have the flags of as many of the nationalities as we can, that are represented in our neighborhood.
This year we’ll have live music! Ed, one of our neighbors up the street, did the research and found and hired a local band. It just took someone who was willing to get it done. Last year we combined our NNO party with the block just north us of and we almost doubled in size. What fun!
And the neighboring story that left me speechless:
My husband, Jeff, and I bought our home in March 1985, three months before we got married. We painted, ripped up old carpet, and worked in the yard before we moved in. Know what? The “elders” of the neighborhood threw us a wedding shower, with all the elders in the neighborhood – folks that knew the previous owners of our home and wanted to welcome us to the neighborhood! Can you believe it? THEN… the “newbies” of the neighborhood threw us a wedding shower too with the newer generation of neighbors. All of this planned before we even moved in! As you can imagine, we feel VERY connected to our neighborhood. We have progressive dinners, we have last-minute dinners together and many residents work out together and vacation together. West Seattle is a lovely place to live!
Could a 30-year run of National Night Out begin this year in your neighborhood?
Sue’s stories about her neighborhood sound like something you used to hear about long ago, not what we typically hear about Seattle neighborhoods today. What she told me left me stunned, yet also encouraged and thoughtful. What does it take to get something like this started?
Perhaps just one thing: a catalyst.
Could you be that catalyst for your neighborhood? National Night Out is two weeks away. Think about organizing a block party. It’s not too late to hand out a flyer and most city websites have downloadable flyers and other materials and ideas to help you make it happen. Make it simple and just have a coffee bar or a fire pit with s’mores. Just a simple evening of invitation to start a conversation and move toward your neighbor.
A better, stronger, more connected neighborhood could start with you.
Editor’s note: I will be organizing a block party for my street in September. With vacation already scheduled, NNO wasn’t possible for me. If that’s you too, think about organizing a fall block party. Under my top navigation link “Being Cordial” you ‘ll find a few blog posts from last year about my 2014 fall block party and a few other’s I spotlighted to give you some ideas.