I live in a street where the residents who live in houses with even numbers are the current Tug O War champions. Unfortunately for me, I live in number thirteen.
I live in a street where watching Barbara, who’s in her nineties, do the Limbo is legendary.
I live in a street where it can take ages to walk home because so many people stop to chat.
When William & Kate decided to marry, they presented my husband and I with a wonderful opportunity for a celebration that was right up our street! Having recently arrived in southeast London from overseas, we decided there was no better time to help draw the neighbourhood together.
I door knocked every one of the 66 houses in our street to canvas the street party idea. “I had thought about it, but you’re helping to make it happen,” was one lady’s response. When eight neighbours came to the initial planning meeting, we knew we were well under way. People had local knowledge such as where to get tables and who was good at what!
Even the preparations were a great way to meet neighbours as some would stop and ask how the plans were progressing. Each day, response forms would appear declaring who was attending and what they would bring.
The afternoon tea went smoothly with help from some friends who assisted us run “community building” activities. The food represented the nations in the neighbourhood. Families brought friends. Everyone wore a nametag including their house number, which encouraged conversation amongst strangers. Older folk brought their fold up chairs and sat together so they could watch the activities.
People mingled with one another as they completed quizzes. Two men usually housebound came in their wheelchairs and loved being connected again. Music mixed with laughter. Children ran around, everyone returned to the food tables time and time again and no one went home. A group photo from an upstairs window captured one hundred and twenty smiling faces.
We’ve now had five parties in our street. Each time others are taking more initiative. Our street has become friendlier, with a greater amount of connection between residents occurring up and down the street.
Relationships take time to build. To keep the connections ongoing, we’ve tried to find other ways to make contact by meals with neighbours, cheese nights and drinks parties. Last year we had our first Christmas party at the local parish hall. Recently we had the opportunity to offer prayer support to a neighbour with some difficulties. We pray for a number of them each day.
We still have a long way before our street is transformed. And there’s probably a lot more we could be doing. But we have begun.
I live in a street where Nigel, our resident DJ, who happens to be a deputy head, quietens the crowd to announce that, “We have become a community.”