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Leadership Greater Rochester fills trailer with everything you need to host a block party

Rochester's Slatterly Park neighborhood has its annual celebration of art, and its Kutzky Park counterpart has put musicians to porches.

Rene Lafflam, director of RNeighbors, said that's likely just a taste of what's happening when neighbors get together.

"I think it's more common than we hear about," she said of block parties.

The latest Leadership Greater Rochester class wants to make sure that's a fact. Efforts continue to create a trailer designed to encourage block parties throughout the city.

With plans to unveil the trailer Aug. 10 during Thursdays on First and Third, the group is equipping the trailer with nearly everything needed for a block party, said Karen Lemke, the class' spokeswoman.

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All neighbors should need to add are the people and the food.

"We want to make it simple to throw a party," Lemke said, noting the trailer will have a grill, tables and chairs, coolers and yard games, along with other items.

But why throw a block party?

1. Meet the neighbors

Lemke noted two members of the LGR class live near each other but had never met until they signed on to the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce program.

"It's nice to know the people who are around you," she said.

2. Start new traditions

Events like the National Night Out, as well as the Slatterly Park neighborhood's Art on the Avenue and others, have become annual gatherings that bring communities together. They develop followings and give neighborhoods something to look forward to each year.

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3. Get organized

Lemke said a group of neighbors gathering around a grill can easily lead to something more formal, either the creation of an official neighborhood organization or a neighborhood improvement project.

4. Feel safer

Samantha Rossi, an RNeighbors board member and LGR class member, said simply getting to know the people living around you can change how homeowners feel about their neighborhoods.

"It can make neighbors feel safer," she said.

5. Unplug for the day

Lemke noted simply joining neighbors to make root-beer floats would help change daily trends and disconnect from stresses, while also encouraging families to get out of the house.

6. Change 'I' to 'we'

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Lafflam noted that building relationships can also build resources for lasting change. Where an action might feel daunting for one person or even a family, it could become a good community project.

"Things seem so much more doable when you work together," she said.

With the new block-party trailer being prepared, Lemke noted the LGR class is still seeking sponsors and donations. Sponsorships are available at all levels until June 15 and the group is looking for donations to support adding yard games to the trailer's collection, Lemke said.

Inquiries about sponsorship or donations can be sent to Lemke at klemke@rochester.lib.mn.us.

Once it's ready to roll, the trailer will be housed with the Rochester Park and Recreation Department. Rossi said the LGR class has raised funds to cover costs related to providing the trailer for three years and hopes to keep it going at no cost to neighborhoods.

"It's going to be available to everyone," she said.

Related Topics: FINANCEFOODGAMES
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