As Chicago winds down another season of fun-filled street fests, it's worth noting that there's more to the concept than simply shopping for crafts and enjoying live music.
National Night Out was August 7, and for those who missed it (like me), the Project for Public Spaces has an excellent essay on the impact of block parties and the future of hyperlocal urbanism. Courtesy of Planetizen.
The mark of the 21st century person is to have one foot stepping out into the world and another squarely planted in their community. Even as our intellectual and economic horizons expand, the local community is still where we lead our lives, where our toes touch the ground, where everybody knows our name. Being rooted in the neighborhood of your choice (which may be many times zones from the neighborhood where you grew up) offers not just comfort but a prime opportunity to make a difference in the world.
Issues that seem overwhelming at the international or even municipal level can often be effectively tackled close to home. That's because the people who live in a particular locale are the experts on that place, with the wisdom and commitment to get things done.
There's no better time in history, as the old saying goes, to think globally and act locally.
It's a formula for success in dense cities like Chicago, where neighbors can't help but look after one another. The Center for Neighborhood Technology is overflowing with helpful resources to stay connected in your local community. Check in with your neighbors once a week. Buy an ice cream bar from the local bakery. Introduce yourself to the school crossing guard, even if you don't have kids in school. We're going somewhere together, so it's best to view your neighbors as enablers, not hindrances.
If you're interested in learning more about block parties, the Neighbors Project is hosting the Block Party Party on August 25 in Lakeview as part of its DIY Neighborhood initiative. Attend to learn the basics of organizing and networking to create your own block party.