I want to talk about the value of neighbors and neighborhood. A bit ago, my neighborhood had a Block Party. It was just a gathering of folks with happy chatter about kids, potluck, burgers, music, pets and old-time residents welcoming the new. And no politics, without even asking to steer clear… (We did have voter’s registration available, but that’s not politics!)
Toluca Lake will always be my North Star…but since I reunited with David, Sherman Oaks has been my home. We had started our new life in his very lovely condo, but I needed a garden and he needed a place to swim unencumbered by a bathing suit. For the past 12 years, thanks to our friend and realtor (and now neighbor), Dorene Martin, we found ourselves moving in the opposite directions of many of our peers who were scaling life down.
The opportunity to walk out our door and see people and trees and dogs being walked by, suited us. And, an unexpected blessing! The good fortune of being in a “pocket.” Our pocket is contained by one long through street on the west and three side streets that end on a short street, which links them all on the east…and, if a household so desires to sign on, we have our own group link on the internet! It’s a handy way to send a heads-up if there has been any worrisome activity or to request a recommendation for a plumber or announce a safety meeting with our police representatives, plan for earthquake preparedness…or a Block Party!
Our Block Party
Here’s a semi-guide to how to do a block (neighborhood) party: One, an inspired neighbor who knows a few others to volunteer to get it going. Then set a meeting, casual, to discuss who can tend to what, find volunteers and put forth ideas to make it a special occasion. Adjacent driveways made a perfect location, a place for a barbeque or two, food tables, a table for signing-in, raffle tix, and the donation jar (to help cover costs for basic hot dogs and burgers with trims).
One duty was to contact the local city councilmember for the rules and advice for insurance. David Ryu and his staff helped immensely! And our State Assemblymember, Adrin Nazarian, and his field representative, Vanessa Carr, actually attended and spent time talking one-on-one to hear opinions and needs…and to have fun!
Flyers to save the date, give party details, organize the potluck and last minute reminders were placed near every door. Add a ping-pong table, a classy bouncy house, activities and crafts for children, a band with rocking music, and always thrilling for all — a fire engine! We are so thankful for Fire Station 102 and the gentlemen firefighters who not only participated in our day but also are always there to save our home and ourselves.
A few quotes from those who attended help explain the value:
“There was an overwhelming sense of community and comradery.”
“It was heartwarming to see such a great variety of neighbors of all ages, enjoying each other’s company and having a wonderful time together.”
“Such a fabulous feeling of community with the neighbors here.”
“A great time was had by all.”
And we’ll talk…
Jackie Joseph is a writer and actress best known for her TV roles as Alan Brady’s niece Jackie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” the voice of Melody in the animated “Josie and the Pussycats” and as Jackie Parker on “The Doris Day Show.”