“It felt like jazz,” said one resident at the end of Folwell’s first Neighborhood Night in early June at Folwell Park. “Everyone is playing their unique role, but we get to see all the pieces come together and it’s making something beautiful.” There was a chorus from all the residents agreeing, “Yes, that’s it!” and “Exactly!”
Neighborhood Night is a shift by the Folwell Neighborhood Association (FNA) to create a night where community can gather together, eat a meal, and build relationships and connections. It’s also an evening when all committees and teams gather to hold their meetings, and anyone who has a new topic they want to discuss can come and present. The idea is to provide more community input, and understand the work that is being organized in the neighborhood, in a casual setting.
Neighbors feasted on a delicious dinner provided by Sammy’s Ave Eatery (Broadway and Emerson), and dessert by Old School Butter Cookies, from a Folwell resident who runs her own cookie business. Food has always had a way of bringing people together. We experienced that when we had folks who have never attended any community gathering come and join long-time neighborhood stakeholders. People who just moved here attended, along with some who have lived here most of their life. Many of the FNA board were present, including both staff. The atmosphere was casual and accepting, while being pulsed with an energy that comes from genuine connection.
The room was filled with an openness and eagerness to not only learn what is going on, but to also participate in the work to get things done. By hosting all committee meetings on the same night, and allowing folks to bring issues they are concerned about to the open space format, it provides a fuller picture of the work happening in Folwell. Folks who are working on projects (much like National Night Out) were in the same room as the Communications team and Crime and Safety team. This allowed for building collaborative work together on the spot and understanding what next steps are for getting the work done. People left this night feeling informed, included and inspired for the future of Folwell.
Neighborhood night will be a monthly staple for Folwell through December. June was a soft launch of this pilot program that was well received. We will continue to work through kinks as they arise, and learn how to better serve the community. If you missed it, mark your calendar for every third Monday of the month (the next one is July 16) at Folwell Park with dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. If you have questions or would like to volunteer for the night, contact Dani at email@example.com. We are always working on ways to improve this idea, including more activities, babysitting, and opportunities to laugh and build relationships. If you want to meet new folks, connect with the work or be informed, consider attending!