When is National Year Out?

Tonight is National Night Out, the one night a year where we block cars from certain streets so they can be used in a way that actually enriches the community.  The City has a list of all the “official” NNO events, and it’s fun to look at the column that lists the planned activities to see what people would use their streets for if they didn’t have to fear for their lives every time they set foot on it:

  • Grilling/kids games
  • sit in street, watch planes
  • kids riding bikes in the street
  • Johnny Cash tribute band
  • Welcom[ing] new neighbors
  • hanging out for adults, sidewalk chalk/colors for kids
  • Plant/book exchange
  • a lot of laughter
  • Gospel rap
  • Barbecue, pinata, water balloon toss
  • kids running around
  • discuss cute dogs
  • Basketball Tournament
  • Share how things are in the n’hood
  • Hopefully visit from fire engine !
  • Kids “own” the street
  • Zumba
  • Beers, Brats, Buddies
  • self defense demo
  • celebrate life of a long-time neighbor who passed away recently
  • schmoozing
  • chicks-on-sticks
  • Chili cook-off
  • Chicken Wing Contest
  • kids bike decorating
  • possibly tours of gardens and/or guitar playing
  • the kids like to ride their bikes/play games in the street

As you browse the 33 page list, it becomes almost overwhelming how many of the activities that people have to wait till this one time a year to use their street for are just plain everyday activities.  When I was growing up in the suburbs, we played in the street all the time.  City kids I guess can only do that once a year, and only if you jump through enough bureaucratic hoops, and only if your street is deemed “inessential for traffic flow.”

By far the most common activity listed is “socializing” or a variation of it.  Of course socialization happens on these blocks on other nights, too, but only in people’s yards, or squeezed onto a narrow sidewalk.  Since most neighbors drive, random socialization can only happen if no one’s listening to music, or no one is stopped behind your car.

Sure, driving is an easy and comfortable way to get around, but is it worth it?

Yes, I am sitting in my apartment on the computer instead of at NNO event.  Leaving now…