Neighborhoods are alive and well in Decatur. Summertime is the best time for neighborhoods and their activities because we are a network of being outside enjoying the summer sun in our parks! The winter weather keeps us inside way too long. Who wants to picnic in the snow? The neighborhoods schedule, clean ups to make their area look good, they have pot luck picnics and regular picnics at a drop of a hat. Some of them have recruitment celebrations to bring in new members, summer gardens to share with their small community, and there are even neighborhoods that work with the Park District and their Free Lunch Program in the parks. If you notice most of these activities involve food. What better way to get to know your neighbors than a picnic or a dinner. Down through the years people have been doing things like this over food. Then to wrap everything up is the large celebration of National Night Out and give a going away party for crime. Soon after then it will be time to return to school.
This year there are going to be some Block Parties, and neighborhood walks with the city governments, art classes, and celebrations in some of the parks for special occasions not to mention the neighborhoods that have park concession stands. There is nothing any more appetizing than smelling freshly popped popcorn coming from a park especially when there is a ball game in that neighborhood park that’s free to watch.
The best part of working in and with your neighbors is to work at creating relationships with the people you see every day, every week, every year whether it’s across your fences or out on the street when you are leaving and coming home. You all watch same seasons change and you watch each other’s children grow up. And in worst cast scenarios you are there in emergencies for each other. Sometimes it’s a bond that lasts for years. So take advantage of activities in your neighborhood, it doesn’t cost a thing except a small portion of your time.
-Francie Johnson, Dove Community Services/Decatur Area Project Director