Fall has begun. That means leaves on the ground, a chill in the air, and sweaters coming out of the closets (maybe that'll wait until November for our southern readers). But it's not time to hibernate yet. There are still plenty of neighborhood activities you can participate in to get to know your community better and build relationships to last all winter long. Here are 5 to get you started:
1. Host a block party.
Yes, summer is the typical season for block parties, but a fall block party can be just as enjoyable. The air is a little cooler, but grilling and bonfires are still a welcome pursuit. Maybe you trade in the popsicles and ice cream for an apple pie, and swap the corn-on-the-cob for a big pot of chili. If it's too cold where you are, you can still hang out with you neighbors by hosting a party in one or more of the homes on your block. For more tips on how to host a fantastic neighborhood event, check out "How to Meet Your Neighbors," written by Strong Towns' member Adam Greenfield, a block party pro.
2. Organize a walk/bike to school day.
Our recent Strong Schools Week was all about transportation access to schools. We know that many North Americans live in towns where walking and biking are less than ideal, but that doesn't mean they can't be done. Strength in numbers is one sure way to send a sign to your local leaders that walking and biking are priorities for children in your town. Gather your children's classmates and their parents and choose a day where everyone commits to walking or biking to school. This website has an excellent guide for planning and implementing a successful Walk/Bike to School Day.
3. Enjoy the fall colors at your local park.
Take a walk to the nearest park and find the prettiest orange and yellow tree. Those leaves won't be around for long. If it's warm enough outside, bring a picnic.
4. Rake your neighbors' leaves.
This is a nice gesture if you have elderly neighbors, of course, but anyone will appreciate a helping hand when it comes to clearing leaves off their sidewalk and lawn. Turn the activity into a fun game with your kids by building leaf piles for jumping, or challenging everyone to find the coolest leaf. Here's a guide for pressing and preserving your leaves. Your neighbors may even be inspired by your kind gesture and decide to pass the favor on by lending a helping hand to someone else in the neighborhood.
5. Visit your local businesses and pick up some fall foods.
One surefire way to help build a strong town is by supporting your local businesses. It's fall, so how about fresh apple cider or donuts from the farmers market? Or maybe a pumpkin muffin and homemade soup from a local cafe. Choosing to spend money on local businesses instead of national chains helps keep that money in your town and support your community.
For more great ideas, visit our Resources page.
(Top photo by MrTinDC)