On a balmy Friday evening in the Blundell & No. 2 block, we had the first-ever Chatsworth Block Party in more than two decades. In a world that often felt disconnected, vulnerable, and uneasy with increasing incidents of theft and robberies, the block party served as more than just a fun community event; it was also an opportunity for residents to stand united against crimes, be watchful, and ready to protect themselves.
In preparation for the party, and with the help of a few neighbours, we had hand-delivered invitations to more than 140 households in the neighbourhood. We talked to many in person and posted numerous large and small flyers on the street to increase awareness of the event.

The RSVP results, however, did not look good after a few days. While anxiously waiting and hoping to see more responses, I had my doubts about whether my neighbours would be enthusiastic about the event. The nagging worry about the weather (heat, rain, smoke), vacation plans during the summer season, and conflicting schedules added to my anxiety. I spent even more time visiting as many households as possible and encouraged the neighbours to spread the word, reminding them of the importance of coming together after a challenging time. It was after receiving a few RSVPs on the day before the party I realized that there was no RSVP deadline mentioned on the flyers. Apparently, some people were waiting to make last-minute commitments. In addition, the “high tech” QR code used for collecting responses wasn’t great for those who weren’t familiar with such technology. A good old URL or phone number could have been a better option.

The party started with the scent of grilled hot dogs wafting through the air. Children ran around, their laughter filling the neighbourhood park as they enjoyed food, games, and riddles. The Block Watch information booth and Spot the Target game prepared by the Richmond Block Watch Office were big hits. The neighbours appreciated their presence to share tips and address their questions and concerns. We also gauged enough interests to form one more Block Watch group from residents of Chelmsford, with a block watch captain and 5-6 households identified during the party.
We suggested special interest groups and designed name tags with home addresses. The name tags were more than just identifiers; they were icebreakers, sparking conversations among neighbours who may not have spoken before. We greeted newcomers and introduced neighbours to one another, fostering connections that had been dormant for far too long.

The party had an awesome turnout, about 100 people! Among the diverse crowd that gathered, there was a young couple pushing a stroller with an adorable baby inside, exchanging stories with other parents. A family with four energetic kids enjoyed the delicious food, games, and the company of new playmates. There was a 92-year-old seated in a wheelchair, happily engaging in conversations, sharing stories from the past, and offering words of wisdom. It was priceless seeing his eyes spark with delight during this long-awaited opportunity to connect with his neighbours.
None of this would have been possible without the generous support from the Neighborhood Small Grant. You have made us a stronger, safer, and happier community! We look forward to turning the block party into an annual tradition.

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