May 13, 2019

How to throw an amazing block party

Learn how three neighborhoods—in Denver, Cleveland, and New York City—each customized a community bash using resources from the crowdfunding nonprofit ioby.

With summer on the way—it’s time to dust off the grill and start planning your community block party. Is your neighborhood hosting a block party this year? Tell us about it on Twitter @TheRenewalProj or message us on Facebook.

In communities across the country, block parties liven up our streets in all but the coldest, darkest months. Some say that block parties originated in Manhattan during World War I, when residents roped off their block to sing songs and hold a parade in honor of their neighbors who had gone overseas to serve. But we’re pretty sure that even your town has its own special origin story for the neighborhood block party.

Wherever they got their start, block parties are hugely popular the world over, and now come in flavors ranging from kid-centric to faith-based to activism-focused.

ioby, too, has a block party hit to share! Neighbors have crowdfunded with ioby to bring people closer together, invite people to walk more, and to celebrate the beauty of being in a community together. Read on to get inspired by three awesome ioby projects with a block party element: each led by a visionary neighborhood resident, and each representing a different type of block party.

1. WalkDenver project, Denver

Question: How can we invite residents to walk from place to place in their neighborhood, instead of driving by default?

The neighborhood’s answer: A “better block party” initiative demonstrated to area residents and businesses, in the words of neighbor James Schaffer, “what this block, this area, could become.” Locals collaborated to install temporary artwork, seating, planters, and more in the car-centric Jefferson Park neighborhood and invited performers and local businesses to put their stuff on display for the pedestrian public. The organizers raised almost $9,000 on ioby to pay for materials, traffic control, barricades, t-shirts, refreshments, and other event costs.

Top takeaways: Project leader Jill Locantore said, “I see people going through conversions, where they’re like, ‘I don’t know why I never thought of this before—walking! Such a great thing to do!’ And then they kind of become evangelists and tell other people.”

2. EcoVillage Neighbors Block Party, Cleveland

Question: How do you knit a diverse community of many smaller blocks into a strong, cohesive neighborhood?

The neighborhood’s answer: Strength in numbers: Nearly a dozen neighbors got together to plan the first EcoVillage Neighbors Block Party in 2015. In the years since, word has spread, attendance has grown, and the neighborhood’s reputation has been boosted. Block party goers often meet new people, and get better acquainted with neighbors they previously only knew in passing.

The organizers raised almost $2,000 on ioby to pay for food, music, games, a tent, electricity, water, and promotions.

Top takeaways: “The kinds of relationships that the Block Party facilitates are increasing the sense of community on our streets, and bringing neighbors into new support networks that are often sorely needed,” said project leader Anna P.

3. Grand St. Settlement’s Brownsville Block Party, Brooklyn

Question: How can we promote healthy eating and enjoyment of the outdoors to our neighbors in a way that’s appealing and effective?

The neighborhood’s answer: Make it fun: Project leader Tiffani Lawson said, “What better way to introduce ourselves and see what we can do for each other than with a good old fashioned block party?” Her event highlighted emerging nonprofit and community-based organizations as well as startups based in Brownsville. The organizers raised over $1,100 on ioby to pay for street furniture rental, healthy food, games, a DJ, and flyers.

Top takeaways: Tiffani says it’s easy to walk down the street in Manhattan and get a salad on your lunch break, but not in Brownsville. Local food justice organizations like Neighbors Together can help fill the gap. Also, she says, “We keep hearing that kids are stuck inside all the time, but are we giving them the opportunity to go outside?” City Parks Foundation’s Get Up & Go! program gives Brooklyn youngsters the chance to get outside and get fit while having a blast with their friends. The Brownsville Block Party convened neighbors young and old to show them that healthy food and vibrant outdoor recreation are within reach—in fact, they’re right in the neighborhood.

Are you all psyched up to throw an amazing block party where you live? Tell us about your vision! We can help you raise the money, support, and know-how you need to make it happen.

This article was first published on ioby’s blog. Read more here.

Noah Lumbantobing ioby

Noah Lumbantobing


Noah Lumbantobing supports communications and storytelling work at ioby, helping to let people in on the poorly kept secret of community-led decision making for change–through crowdfunding! He is passionate about racial justice and collective agency, and is excited about the ways he can contribute to that everyday through ioby. He comes to ioby after previously working at the NYC Mayor's Office of Strategic Partnerships, supporting government, philanthropic, and private sector partnerships that advance the public good.

Noah holds a B.A. in Politics and Government from the University of Puget Sound. Originally an Oregonian and Indonesian, he spends a lot of time shuttling around the world meeting old friends, making new ones, and eating plenty of good food. When he can stay put he enjoys shell fishing, visual design, and geeking out over urban planning and local governments.
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