Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in July

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be-a-good-neighbor-in-july-happy-fourth-of-july-good-neighbor-storiesCelebrate America’s birthday by being a good citizen during July! Here are five ways you can exercise your citizenship in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1. ‘Party On’ This Fourth: Spend some time getting to know others in your community by joining in on local celebrations. Every city has events to bring its residents together on the Fourth of July, sometimes all day, with pancake breakfasts, parades, festivals, and of course, fireworks once the sun sets. Check out the list on Kidmatter.com for events all over the Bay Area. Want to stay home? Consider inviting your neighbors over for a barbecue. Start planning a block party together for later in the summer—you can use our guide to how to plan a great block party!

2. Get to Know Japanese Buddhist Neighbors: July and August are Obon season for Japanese Buddhists, a time to honor ancestors with feasts, dancing, and memorial services. Two South Bay Buddhist temples and one in Berkeley are hosting festivals for the entire [Read more…]

How to Organize a Great Block Party

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Yesterday I posted about how neighbors in Cupertino are strengthening their neighborhoods through throwing annual block parties. Today I’ve got a list of ideas on how to organize a great block party in your own neighborhood.

Live in an apartment building or condominium complex? Don’t let that stop you from getting neighbors together. A common area or local park can be used to gather people together with food and activities to facilitate conversations and connections.

Cottonwood Drive resident and professional party planner Lianne Hatcher, who helped organize this year’s 50s themed block party for her neighborhood, said it’s important to have one person play the role of block leader, who can then organize interested neighbors who want to be on the planning committee.

Plan the party one to two months in advance, and make sure the party date does not conflict with major events, like graduations or holidays where people will likely be traveling. [Read more…]

Block Parties Bring Neighbors Together

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Want to make your neighborhood a little nicer and safer? Do like the neighbors on Cottonwood Drive in Cupertino do, and break out the hot dogs and Samosas.

Every summer the residents along the street gather together for an annual block party, a day of food, games, and friendly chatting. More than just a fun festivity, the popular event serves as a way to knit the neighbors together just a little tighter, and make the neighborhood just a little nicer all year long.

“It’s a good community project. The more you know your neighbors, the better for your street,” said Nanette Domitrowich, as she put the final touches on preparations for Cottonwood’s 2012 block party last month.

The yearly party started several years ago, helping to lift morale; since they began Domitrowich said neighbors say “hi” to one another a little more.

Her co-block leader, Sujit Roy, called the tradition a nice way for neighbors to catch up with one another, since normally, “We drive in our cars and we don’t get to see anybody.”

This year Domitrowich and her neighbor a few doors down, Lianne Hatcher, planned a 50s theme for the event; they played pop tunes from the era, added a few decorations, and Hatcher even donned 50s garb.

Like most Silicon Valley neighborhoods, Cottonwood is a mixture of long-time residents—some homeowners have lived there more than 50 years—and newer transplants from around the world. [Read more…]