Community makes a comeback
When I was growing up we lived on a very long main road, but we still knew the names of every family in the street. We didn’t live in each other’s pockets, like on a certain TV show, but the kids played together and heaven help you if someone else’s mum or dad saw you doing the wrong thing.
Even Father Leonard knew our names – and we weren’t even Catholic!
Fast forward a few decades and I live in a street where no-one knows anyone’s names. People live their individual lives inside their homes or backyards. The sense of belonging and community simply isn’t there – and it’s very sad.
Fortunately, there’s a program that’s neighbourliness back into neighbourhoods across the country – street by street. In fact, that’s its name.
The Centre for Civil Society started the Street by Street program to revive the art of neighbourliness on a national scale. It aims to re-kindle connections between neighbours that might once have formed spontaneously but which in our day and age require a little facilitation. Its model is local neighbourhood networks in small population precincts of between 200 and 400 households.
The arrival of spring has prompted the group’s latest project to encourage neighbours to bond is Springtime in your Street. They even have a simple “recipe” for those who’d like to recapture the good old days of street cricket and chats over the back fence.
Springtime is, after all, when many of us come out of hibernation and are ready to spend more time outdoors, take on a creative project or try something new. That makes it the perfect time to bring the neighbourhood together.
- Take one deep breath…
- Add a little courage and a sense of adventure (found in everyone if you look in the right place)
- Download this invitation template
- Add a park, cafe, your lounge room or backyard
- Include a date and time
- Shoot your draft over to firstname.lastname@example.org for feedback
- Press print and make some copies
- Take your two legs and walk the street to do a letter drop
- Mix in some people who live nearby, those you sort of know, know well or don’t know at all (Note: Best results come from adding a good variety to the mix)
- Add some food, drinks and conversation
- At the event, stir 8 & 9 together and mix well.
Of course there’s no guarantee the final result will be what you expect. In fact, each of you will create something entirely different! Some creations will be small and tasty, others will be big and meaty, some will keep expanding and others might be more like a soufflé – you do it once and it leaves you wanting more or just does not rise to the occasion.
Most importantly you can’t get this recipe wrong because every effort will have its rewards and you are guaranteed to have some great experiences with people who live nearby. If you have had your fill after one try of the recipe, well at least you tried it!
On the other hand, this first taster could leave you wishing for more. If that happens just follow the links at the website for what to do next or contact Street by Street for help to guide your next gathering.