15 March 2016
The countdown to Neighbours Day Aotearoa activities all over New Zealand is on!
If you haven’t made plans for this weekend yet, I have to say, I don’t think it’s ever too late to get something organised for Neighbours Day.
Although I’ve had weeks to think about organising an event, I only really swung into action over the last week or so.
Knowing that it doesn’t have to be a huge street party really helped, as all of a sudden the simple gesture of reaching out to a small number of people made planning an event very manageable.
Of course I love the idea that there are street parties about to take place on streets all over the country and I so admire people who are super brilliant at pulling awesome events together.
But simple or more extravagant, it matters not. It’s the connecting, the sharing and the building of community that is at the true heart of Neighbours Day.
Over the last week I have sent out my invitations to an afternoon tea gathering under the trees on my lawn.
Five went straight into letterboxes as there was no one home. Then I also managed to talk in person with people from seven different households close by and had enthusiastic conversations with them about the plans for a Neighbours Day event.
Some were initially a little skeptical about who I was, but with the Neighbours Day invite in hand they soon realised I was genuine.
It was such a great feeling being able to connect with so many people and share my desire for them to come and be a part of the afternoon. They all seemed really thrilled with the idea.
I won’t know until on the day how many people will actually come, and that is just fine. Because I have kept it simple I am not going all out to provide food or refreshments.
I have asked everyone to bring a small plate to share and a blanket to sit on. One couple asked if I can put out chairs as they didn’t fancy sitting on the ground.
I will do some baking – a cake and maybe some savouries to share. Anything not eaten on the day can be used for lunchbox supplies the following week so nothing will be wasted.
I only have a few more things to check off my ‘to do’ list: buy some balloons to blow up to decorate my trees, make sure I have my baking supplies, and head to the local primary school to purchase some of the beautiful produce that their garden club grows to give away as gifts.
The only thing I can’t control is the weather. Hoping for a glorious late March sunny day. Fingers and toes crossed for the weather gods to look down on us with kindness.
(Just in case it turns out it isn’t fine where you’re at, it’s worth thinking now about a space where you can move indoors – if not in your house than maybe into a garage/car port? Or do you have a next door neighbour with a bigger space that you could ask to be the rainy day host?)
When I first decided I wanted to be part of Neighbours Day Aotearoa 2016 it was because I had realised how very disconnected I was from my own local community. I have lived in my suburb for over two years and had only formed one (wonderful) connection with a close neighbour and was on saying ‘hello’ and ‘may I borrow your ladder?’ terms with another.
I remembered my childhood wistfully as being a part of a tight knit community, where the kids were safe playing into the night with others who lived locally. The adults would have regular get togethers and we all felt bonded together for no other reason than that we lived in close proximity to one another.
No matter where I’ve lived for the last few years, that sense of being bonded and connected simply hasn’t been a part of my life, nor the lives of my children.
I believe in the power of connection, of community, and think that great things can happen in people’s lives through people power.
Even if those great things are non-tangible like feeling valued, feeling joy, feeling safe and feeling that you belong.
I’m really hoping that the ‘Gardner Gathering’ will encourage all of those things, and who knows…maybe so much more, as this is only the very beginning of the journey as we start to turn our street into a caring neighbourhood.
I have learnt so much over the last few weeks while being a part of Neighbours Day. I have faced plenty of challenges, overcome fears and I’ve been given the gift of being able to write these diary entries. I’m so very grateful for everything Neighbours Day Aotearoa has already given me. And I am so looking forward to the prospects of what may be.
Looking forward to sharing my next entry with you all – instead of talking about plans, I’ll be celebrating and sharing some photos from the inaugural “Gardner Gathering”!
4 days to go!