The Citizens Handbook
Block Parties

Block parties give neighbours a chance to meet one another in a relaxed setting. To hold a successful block party you need to do some advance planning. A couple of months ahead you should start thinking about dates, activities, and supplies. And you should start enlisting the help of neighbours. Find out how they can help, and what they can supply. Try to involve as many people as possible, and make sure everyone stays in touch with one another.

Block parties can be held in backyards, neighbourhood parks or on the street.If you close the street, the city may require you to take out liability insurance, and obtain the approval of affected neighbours. You may also be required to obtain traffic barricades from the city's special events co-ordinator. If you hold your party at a local park, you might check with the municipal department that looks after parks. Often people skip government permits and approvals.

You can make your block party just about any shape or size. One block in the Grandview-Woodlands area of Vancouver held a very successful block party several years ago, and invited the whole neighbourhood. They had live music, helium balloons, face painting and lots of food. Some people came in response to local ads, others in response to the sounds, smells and colour of the event itself.

Block parties can come at the end of a block cleanup, a block garage sale, or a day of tree-planting. They can also have a theme such as a harvest festival, Independence day or Canada Day celebration. Whatever the nature of your first party, the next will be much easier to organize. On some blocks it becomes an important annual event.

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The Troublemaker's Teaparty is a print version of The Citizen's Handbook published in 2003. It contains all of The Handbook plus additional material on preventing grassroots rot, strategic action, direct action and media advocacy. You can get a copy of The Teaparty from bookstores, Amazon or New Society Publishers.