I had this idea to do a family music event for our neighborhood, in the form of a fun, colorful block party! I wanted to use the elementary school undercover space in case it rained – I had never rented space from the Vancouver School Board before, I was hoping since it’s an unused school currently, that they would donate the space usage – this took up a larger part of the grant money than expected, as I also had to purchase event insurance, as well as obtain and purchase a special events permit from the city. There is no outdoor power at the school so we also had to rent a generator, and rented sound equipment for the bands. After this, plus purchasing some decorating supplies and three boxes of jumbo freezies to give out for free to all the kids, ended up using all of our $500 grant funds plus more, haha. Next year I’ll consider using a free community space or a neighborhood lane, OR hit up some local businesses for sponsorship and more in-kind donations to help out with costs. Being organized really helped with the day – securing lots of great neighbors and friends to help with various volunteer jobs, from loading and moving gear, to decorating the space, to taking everything down and cleaning up and leaving the space spotless – it was a fantastic day, completely heartwarming as so many neighbours came out, and everyone met new friends and were able to connect with neighbours in a welcome and fun environment. I also invited Mom’s Grilled Cheese food truck to join us as the owner lives in the neighborhood! There was mechanical problems with their truck so they ended up coming at 3pm instead of 1pm – but they had lots of customers when they arrived! I contacted Rainbow ice cream truck as well and they were very kind and came by our event, as well. Next time if I do it at the same space, I’ll likely rent a wheelchair friendly portable washroom, if it’s in the budget to do so. The challenges of the event weren’t too crazy, there was just some bureaucracy and lots of emailing and phone calls for the VSB space rental, finding reasonable event insurance and working with the special events permit folks at the city of Vancouver. Everyone was quite reasonable but this stuff does take up a lot of time. The initial generator we rented (the cheapest one) sounded like two lawnmowers running at once. So, we ended up swapping it out for the quiet generator which was twice the price to rent. Definitely learned a lot from this event planning experience and will be even more prepared for next year! The scope of the project ended up being a bigger event planning experience than I thought lol – but it was so worth it, it was so much fun, we had 100+ folks enjoying the event, and it really felt like a community building moment after years of being told to stay away from each other! I learned that recruiting some great volunteers is key to a larger event – make sure you apply for permits etc early on in the process! Thank you so much to Neighbourhood Small Grants!

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