36 residents of the Old Terrace Neighborhood in Bellows Falls, Vt. enjoyed three hours of good food and good company on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. It was the idea of Sustainable Rockingham and an action step of the recently revised Rockingham Hazard Mitigation Plan. Four people came together to organize the event.
Pop-up tents, tables, and chairs set the stage for a lavish potluck meal and conversations. A hand drawn map of the neighborhood, roughly enclosed by Prospect, Blake, Gove, and Taylor Streets helped new friends show each other where they live. A voluntary sign-up sheet will be the start of a neighborhood communication system.
One person who has lived on Brown Street since 1972 said they couldn’t remember any event that brought the neighborhood together as this party did.
It was sweet to see “old-timers” getting to know people who have only moved there a short time ago, or in one case, a family who is about to move there.
Because our neighborhood is geographically isolated and relatively easy to define, pulling our neighborhood together might be easier than it would be in other parts of town, but we’d like to encourage other neighborhoods to try. We believe the community spirit engendered by events such as our party will help our town be more resilient, sustainable, and welcoming.
There was general agreement that we will do this again. Some of the ideas placed in a suggestion box included door-to-door caroling in December, a summer pool party, and a cooperative springtime neighborhood tag sale.
Thanks so much to our co-organizers Jim Malley and Tarra Neff; thanks to everyone who brought food to share; and a big thank you to the Rockingham Highway Department and Chuck Wise for arranging for safety by blocking off Brown Street for the duration of the black party.
Our lives are better today knowing we are part of a caring community.
Laurel Green and Steve Crofter
Sustainable Rockingham and local residents