What is Neighborhood Night Out?

by Mark Votava

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Yesterday we had a great block party in our neighborhood that was so much fun!  It brought so many people out who live in houses, apartments, cars and even outside.  There weren’t too many cool hipsters at this party.  It was mostly for the poor, those with low income housing or no housing at all.

  • Neighborhood night out

We called it our neighborhood night out.  It was put on by the Tacoma Catholic Worker where we have eight houses within one block.  The block most of the houses are on is called G Street.  We blocked off a section of it from 14th to 15th Street right between some of the houses.

  • Painting a giant mural of a sunflower on the street

Lots of families showed up with small children or elementary age kids.  One of the things most the children were excited about was painting a giant mural on one of the intersections of G Street.  The mural was of a giant sunflower!  It was so much fun to see how the children were so engaged in the painting even after a lot of the adults got tired and took a break.

  • Serving around 200 plates of food

There was a lot of joy and laughter on the faces of the children as they painted and played in the street.  We also had a crafts table, bubbles, chalk art, badmitten and lots of free food.  We served around 200 plates of hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, watermelon, pasta, salads, beans and desserts.  I had the honor of serving food which the line took almost an hour to get through.

  • Reflecting on one another, God and our neighborhood

In honor of our Tuesday night liturgy, we took the first half hour for a space to reflect on one another, God and our neighborhood.  The theme of the liturgy was on loving God with all of your heart, soul, mind, strength and loving your neighbor as yourself.  This was great as the sharing was done in the street by the sidewalk in front of some of the houses.  We sat on the nearby grass or brought out chairs to sit on as we listened and pondered on our life in the neighborhood.

  • Block party not just for white people

The block party was not just white people, but folks of many different races were enjoying the evening with us.  This wasn’t just a party for those labeled “cool” in their 20’s and 30’s.  No, this party was inclusive toward those older in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and above.  This was a party for families and younger kids also.

  • Creating an environment of hospitality and welcome

The painting of the mural on the street was so amazing!  It was fun to see new and old faces.  We ended up meeting neighbors down the street who we hadn’t seen much of before.  We hoped to create an environment of hospitality and welcome in our neighborhood.  I think we accomplished this and had fun doing it!

What do you think of a neighborhood night out block party?