Wednesday, June 21, is the first official day of summer. What better way to celebrate than by growing your existing block club or by starting a new one? You have plenty of time. Labor Day and the winding down of summer is not until September 4, giving you eleven long weeks to plan a great party.
I would say to you the common sentiment that block parties are "for the children." It's true, this annual event is like "Christmas in July" (or August, or September, or June, or, you know what I mean) for any person under the age of twelve. But I think the adults have just as much, or more, fun as the kids. No need to pack up the car and drive out to a park or forest preserve. Can you picture the convenience of a big outdoor party with dozens of people you know and ready access to running water and indoor plumbing? Right outside your front door? If a rain shower passes over you can just step inside until it's over. Then get right back to business.
Let me tell you how simple it can be. Our first year we were newbies and didn't know what we were doing. All we did was submit the permit application in advance, block off the street on the day of the party and ask each family to prepare their own food. We ended up sharing with each other and sampling and we made sure no child or adult went hungry. A few families in strategic places turned up their home stereos (no money for a d.j. that year). The only entertainment we had was where one resident sprang for a Michael Jackson impersonator. Guess what? Everyone had a ball! Residents loved it in spite of the simplicity. And no matter what type of fancy activities you might plan, the biggest thrill kids rave about universally is being able to ride their bikes in the street.
Ask your alderman about available resources (block club trainings or jumping jack/bouncy houses and fire engine visits for your block party). Check out Dan Kleinman’s The New Neighborhood Manual for ideas on how to form a block club and some of the benefits. Follow this link to the City of Chicago’s webpage on Block Party Permit Information to get the ball rolling for everyone's favorite summer activity. Check out the CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) site on how to register your block club.
The anticipation of a block party is usually the motivating force to light the spark and engage the masses to join a block club, but the fun doesn't have to stop on the day of the event when the last face is painted and the last child climbs out of the bouncy house. Although most block clubs are active during warm summer months, the strongest block clubs plan activities and engage their residents year round.
Need more reasons? Take a look at this short, 2 minute and 28 second news clip "Block club members success" to show some of the positive effects of a block club in Cleveland. If a block club can help this so-called "blighted" community, imagine how much it can improve the quality of life in the neighborhood where YOU live. Block parties are often the focal point of a block club but the positive effects are much more far-reaching. Block clubs help weak areas get stronger and strong areas get even better.
Here's one last tip for landlords and potential landlords/investors: You have an even more compelling reason to take the initiative. Strong block clubs can raise property values and improve the prospective tenant pool for your rental properties. This translates into hard cash results for real estate entrepreneurs.
Do you currently live in a multi-unit property that you own? Are you planning to buy a multi-unit property that you will move into? If so, this puts you in a unique position as a resident and an investor. USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! Is there an existing block club at the location? Maybe YOU are the one who should take the first step.
I started a block club where I live almost ten years ago because I was not satisfied with the types of tenants my area was attracting. The results have greatly exceeded my expectations and I have been amazed by positive results I could not have predicted. Landlords, make your rental property more attractive to high-quality renters and start a block club in your area today!
This is the third week of my four-week blogging challenge and I am still on track. It's a great feeling to stay on task. Thank you to everyone for your encouragement.
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