|Getting Your “New American” Neighbor to the Block Party
Many new citizens/neighbors want to meet their neighbors and make
friends. It is important to make everyone feel at ease and to communicate
clearly your intentions.
Here are some suggestions that may help new neighbors feel welcome:
• Use a translated description of what a block party is.
• If possible, knock on the door of a new neighbor with someone who
speaks the language.
• Be specific about what the expectations are.
• Remember, words like barbecue, face painting or potluck may need to
• If you are blocking off the street for the day, explain about street
• It may take more than one invitation for a new citizen/neighbor to
fully understand what a block party is, so make a point of following up
in the weeks leading up to the party.
• Make activities accessible to those with limited English language
• Ask about special cultural/religious diet or activity constraints.
• Safety is a big concern for many new citizens because of past
experiences or fear caused by not knowing the language.
- Invite a city council member, school principal, or city staff member.
- Call the Police Department, Fire Department, Environmental Services
or other city departments to obtain literature, give-aways, or to
request a presentation.
- Make sure you have a record of everyone who attends and everyone
you contacted; after all, the idea of a block party is to connect
- Identify special talents your neighbors might have – you may be living
next to a magician, singer, dancer, artist, radio host or prize winning
- Plan lots of activities for children.
- Have an environmentally friendly party. Ask everyone to bring their
own reusable plates, cups and cutlery to limit paper garbage and litter.
- Include activities that encourage people to meet each other. Use
name tags and include children by asking them to create the tags.
- Make sure that people with disabilities can participate in the
activities and include their attendants (those with seeing eye dogs or
- Institute a bathroom policy “Everyone to use their own” so that home
security is maintained.
- Inspire clean up after every party by rewarding children with a prize
for packing up garbage.
- Have a block/street clean up as part of the party. Also, neighbors
may want to contribute towards the cost of a truckload to the dump
and use this to clean out gardens, garbage or alleys.
- Distribute an evaluation form to participants (to get a good response,
number the forms and have door prizes for returned entries