Friday, September 24, 2010

When is a “Block Party” more than just a “Block Party”?


When is a “Block Party” more than just a “Block Party”? When it is in the South Silver Spring neighborhood!... This is certainly NOT your daddy’s block party… This is a major Silver Spring annual ‘event’!

The folks in the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association have built this event over the last five years into a substantial, community-wide ‘fun-for-the-whole-family’ event. Their web-site is professionally presented; sponsors have signed up; and there’s even a beer garden… Check it out at: for location and more information.

I happened to have worked through the years with neighborhoods throughout the Country that have done some good block parties. One of my favorite remains the Freret Street Festival in New Orleans Milwaukee also has a fare share of successful block parties (NOT in the winter, of course.)

These ‘block parties’ serve a much higher purpose than just having a good time. They are true community building activities that help ferment the spirit of the community in the daily lives of residents – and convey a sense of pride to neighbors and visitors alike.

The process to bring the event together oftentimes is as important as the event itself. Pulling together these events brings the community together, creates new relationships, and gives neighborhood associations a tangible result that can truly be measured; something you can ‘touch and feel’. These events provide new members an easy way to connect – and old members a wonderful opportunity to remain engaged. When a ‘street party’ becomes a ‘broader community festival’, it offers the neighborhood the opportunity to present itself to nearby neighbors and other visitors as a welcoming, happening place.

In many ways, the SSSNA ‘block party’ is a result of the progressive activism, outreach, and involvement of the residents of South Silver Spring. They’ve truly sets a new standard for ‘what is possible’ in a 21st century neighborhood association. Their well attended monthly meetings are inviting with interesting varied speakers, presenters, and topical conversations… And then there’s the ‘block party’…

The ‘block party’ has really grown into a festival for the broader community around the intersection of Georgia Avenue and East West Highway, going up E/W Hwy and the many apartments and condominium along the way. It is inviting of folks through Silver Spring and beyond.

This South Silver Spring area is truly coming into its own as a ‘neighborhood of choice’ for younger folks from throughout the region. When you hear comments like ‘I moved here from Dupont Circle’ or ‘this is a higher quality of life than in Adams Morgan’, you know you’ve got something going. The quality of housing options, nearby amenities, and general ‘feel’ of the area makes it a very desirable place to live.

The neighborhood is technically in downtown Silver Spring – it is its southernmost point. It is very ‘walkable’. It is across the street from Montgomery College; you can walk to the Metro; Georgia Avenue restaurants give you plenty of culinary choices; and you can even stroll to downtown Silver Spring and around Fenton Village, do some quality shopping, and be back home within an hour.

The Block Party has become a staple of the South Silver Spring neighborhood – and well worth enjoying whether you live in the neighborhood, have a friend there, or just want to stop by for the fellowship and fun. (Last year, I found my dog-sitter at this Block Party!)

While there is no guide to ‘how-to-do-a-block-party’, the neighbors in South Silver Spring seem to ‘get it’ and do it ‘just right’. (It is interesting to note that there is no formal and official guide to how to do a neighborhood festival. A deep Google search provides no clue… Hmmm… Maybe we should create one!)

I invite you to join me this Saturday September 25th for the 4th Annual SSSNA Block Party! – Look for me in the beer garden:-)

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