It is the first Tuesday of August. It means it is National Night Out. It is a time to meet your neighbors. A time to learn who lives in your building or the house next door. This program began in 1984 as part of the Town Watch Program. Matt Perkins, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania help develop this to a program where people could begin to know each other. A time when we stop and talk to the people who live around us.
Today National Night Out includes thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August (Texas celebrates on the first Tuesday in October). Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. That is thirty eight million neighbors in sixteen thousand communities across the nation who are taking part in National Night Out.
A short conversation, a bite to eat and maybe a game or two played with the neighborhood kids is all it takes to make an evening of fun, the building of new friendships or the rekindling of old ones.
This year it seems more important than ever for us to stop and meet the people around us. It has been a year of violence both physical and emotional. The language and behavior of people on the national level has filtered into the country leaving us shaken and angry. Many have pulled back and are hesitant to reach out to those around them. We are unsure of reactions and our sense of trust has weaken. When we do not trust we do not feel safe. When we don’t feel safe we tend not to talk with the people around us. We walk by with our heads down, our eyes averted and move quickly on our way.
Tonight is the night to break that cycle. Tonight is the time to makes a salad, a few cookies or pull the family grill out from the backyard into the front. Even if you have not planned ahead – put your front light on, buy a package of cookies and take a few chairs out into the front yard or the front stoop. Take that step outside and look around, say hi to those that walk, by offer a cookie and a smile.
My guess is you will feel safer, a bit happier and so will the people around you!