How I Created a Block Party in a Box How I Created a Block Party in a Box

How I Created a Block Party in a Box

by Kevin Van Lierop

April 5, 2014

Neighbour Day is April 26. With the goal of creating a scalable toolkit, I set out on Neighbour Day 2013 to gather friends, neighbours and complete strangers to brainstorm what a toolkit like this might include and what it might look like. Now, my project is a real thing and can be used for Neighbour Day in 2014.

We all reside on some type of street and whether we live in an apartment, a detached house, or townhome, we all have amazing people we call our neighbours. But when was the last time we got together with them simply to party?

While we may exchange daily pleasantries with our neighbours, occasionally get together for an evening out with one another, or arrange play dates for our children, we don’t often get together as an entire block, street, neighbourhood or community simply to socialize and celebrate. Why? Because, the process of trying to plan a block party can be an onerous one.

Designing posters, completing checklists, organizing potlucks, and planning games, events, and entertainment all take time. These responsibilities are in addition to the process of applying for city permits and making sure that the party is a safe one. There are lots of things to take care of, and when time and energy aren’t in abundance there often isn’t an opportunity to plan a party when one might be needed most.

What if the process of planning and executing a block party was a little easier than it currently is? What if we didn’t have to worry about the checklists, activities, and all the mundane work, and could focus on having a good time?

At the start of 2013 I set out to plan a block party for my own street. I wanted take what I knew about planning large-scale, urban-based events and use this knowledge to better connect with the people who I call ‘My Neighbours’.

Why? Because while my city is lucky enough to have a large downtown street festival and my neighbourhood association holds an annual gathering in a local park, I felt that there was a gap, at the street/block level, for people to come together and celebrate.

I started the process of planning a block party, as a good excuse to gather, socialize and celebrate with my neighbours, but I was at a loss when it came to finding existing resources to help make the process easier.

I found myself starting at square-one, without any pre-established and widely available resources to make use of. I felt as if I was about to embark on a process that others had embarked on time and time again, yet creating resources and duplicating efforts that should already exist.

I knew there had to be a better and easier way.

Putting my own block party on hold, I directed my attention to creating a toolkit focused on planning and executing successful block parties.

Why? Because block parties are amazing things: they make better use of the space we already occupy, they are excuses to celebrate with one another, and they have the ability to turn strangers into neighbours.

I wanted to take everything that I found myself doing for my block party and share it with the world. I wanted to be able to help every street plan its own party.

I dreamt of a tool that would not only provide the support needed for families, single parents, seniors etc., to plan their own block party, but one that would be scalable to reach blocks, streets, neighbourhoods, and communities around the globe.

With the goal of creating a scalable toolkit, I brainstormed with friends, neighbours and complete strangers to figure out what a toolkit like this might include and what it might look like.

At the beginning of the day with started with a simple definition:

block party in a box
a package containing the resources needed to plan and execute a successful block party without breaking a sweat.

By the end of the day we had a collection of ideas that provided a framework that would be refined over the coming months.

With support from local artists, creative individuals, neighbours and friends from diverse communities, I was able to, at the end of summer 2013, release Block Party in a Box.

Here at GOOD we’re all about improving the places we live. For me this involves taking pride in and ownership of the places where I live.

Now that the winter has passed (here in Canada), the spring months are upon us and summer just around the corner, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the places we call home than getting to know our neighbours and celebrating with one another at a block or street party.

I’m hoping that Block Party in a Box can be a resource that helps streets across the country, continent and the world, plan and execute block parties of their own.

About Block Party in a Box

Block Party in a Box is a resource kit that can be used by anyone wanting to plan a block party for their street, community, or neighbourhood of any size. With pre-made posters, checklists, games, and other resources, Block Party in a Box allows you to plan and execute a successful block party without breaking a sweat.


Images via (cc) Flickr users Jonathan Percy and Eric Allix Rogers

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How I Created a Block Party in a Box