You having your 4th of July weekend barbecue in your front yard and maybe even inviting a few neighbors while you're at it. Have fun, cook some burgers (or asparagas or whatever you cook) and help build community in your neighborhood while you're at it. This is a national call to take a step towards stronger, richer neighborhoods with a simple American past time.
So pick a day and time and invite your neighbors. It's that simple! Then sign up on the map real quick or join the Facebook event so the rest of us can be encouraged by your community building this Independence Day!
The 1950's get a bad wrap. Maybe justifiably so, but the 50's really represent the best and worst of our past clashing with the best and worst of our present. People left small towns and cities where they could walk to work, or to the grocery store or to say hi to a friend. And they moved into areas where cars ruled the land, isolating people from sharing much life together.
Coming from our community-oriented past, 1950's homes usually had larger front yards where the line between public and private is blurred. Gradually, along with borrowing cups of sugar and having the neighbors over for bridge night, the emphasis on the front yard faded.
Our neighborhoods are longing to be filled with meaningful connections and fun activity. So, this Independence Day, let's celebrate our interdependence by moving our celebration to the front yard! You were going to barbecue any way, why not help build community while you do it?!
I don't get it. How does barbecuing in the front yard build community?
Community is built through many small acts over the course of time. By thinking about how we plan cities, prioritizing relationships and, yes, even doing something in the front yard vs. the back yard, we build community. In that way, building relational capital in your neighborhood is no different than strengthening a relationship with a friend.
But I don't have a front yard. Can I still participate?
Heck yes! The front yard is just one of many spaces that connect communities. If your neighborhood has a public gathering place, like a park or plaza, or you live in an apartment complex with a rec area - these are great spaces to hold your barbecue. You can invite your neighbors to come or ask them to join you when they're walking by.
I have other plans on the 4th. Is there a way I can still participate?
The call is for anytime 4th of July weekend, so the 4th-7th. We're basically giving you an excuse to barbecue again if you already have plans on the 4th! Or, if you already have plans to have a back yard barbecue with friends on the 4th, just move it to the front yard. You help build community in your neighborhood and participate in a national movement by simply changing the scenary! Impressive!
Are there other ways to build community in my neighborhood besides barbecuing?
So many! We encourage you to check out our partners
. They are excellent resources for all things placemaking and community building! You can also stay in touch with us via periodic email newsletters
and following us on twitter
Why would I want to build community in my neighborhood? That sounds dumb.
Humans are meant to be known and live in community. We're social animals. Unfortunately, most Americans live very scattered lives shared in bits by several communities (work, church, hobbies, etc.). Many people think that the epidemic levels of depression and anxiety in our country are connected to our isolation as individuals. Helping your neighborhood be more connected is taking a big step towards helping yourself and others have a stronger web of relationships that makes life more meaningful. Also, neighborhoods where people know each other tend to have lower crime, have more positive activity and gain better amenities over the course of time. In order to restore a connected way of life to our world, we need to start with our neighborhoods.
What if I don't know my neighbors?
Well, if you don't know your neighbors, this is a perfect opportunity to get to know them! What easier time to connect with each other then on Independence Day over a BBQ? All you have to do is put on a friendly smile and introduce yourself. It's pretty easy actually, and after you do it once, you'll be hooked!
What food should I bring or serve?
This is the great thing about Front Yard BBQs: you don't really have to change your plans that much. Don't worry about impressing your neighbors; just be yourself. Serve whatever food you were planning to serve already. If you aren't hosting, bring your favorite dish, be it your original creation or one of your grandmother's recipes.