The Neighborhood Block Party as Revolution
by Paul Richards-Kuan
In the early 19th century in the United States, white European immigrants were taking more and more land west of the Atlantic Coast. There was lots of movement, but people settled down where they were. The people who never settled, never were rooted, was the Methodist preacher. These circuit riders, who traveled from town to town, covering a circuit of small churches and preaching points, helped shape the United States and also made the Methodist movement a pervasive movement across the United States. But us Methodist preachers aren't the only ones whose jobs make them move. We now live in a world where only a very small amount of people will stay put for their entire lives. So we don't know our neighbors. We don't have a community.
So what if we had block parties where we knew we could connect with some neighbors every month? That was the first question I began asking my new friends, Christi Vasquez and Michael Martin. Out of that conversation, the Pineview Block Party was formed. A month later, the Eastwood Block Party began. We are now 6 months into hosting small picnic like gatherings of neighbors. And we are only getting started.
The Block Party is for everybody—
regardless of social class, immigration status, race, or creed, the Block Party welcomes everybody in the neighborhood.
Our vision for the East End Block Party is to create the framework of belonging in the East End of Houston. We are going to be the structure that really is inclusive in a radical sense. The Block Party is for everybody- regardless of social class, immigration status, race, or creed, the Block Party welcomes everybody in the neighborhood.
While the work simple- we are just neighbors creating community through games, food, and art- the effect can be profound. Not only are we creating a place where all are welcome, we are creating a space where two different types of people are meeting- the white new resident who is a part of this movement back to the city by young white professionals, and the Latinx community that has taken root in the East End throughout the last 100 years. Those two groups need to know one another. White people like myself need to know the cares, concerns, and dreams of our neighbors. The Latinx community needs to be supported and known by us new neighbors so there fight against gentrification can be a unified voice desiring affordable housing and maintaining neighborhood culture. In other words, these block parties are a revolution. We are changing the way the neighborhood works, will you join your neighborhood's block party?
This post was originally published on stpaulshouston.org on June 25, 2018.