As you may recall, I sent out an email a little over a month ago querying the neighbors to see if they were interested in getting together to establish groups with common interests. I was nervous about proposing some of the things I did, mostly surrounding urban homesteading living, but the reception was positive and a lot of families were interested.
We had our first meet-up this past Saturday - a two hour affair with people bringing snacks, appetizers and drinks. Because my husband was still recovering from pneumonia, one of our neighbors ended up hosting it and a lot more people showed up than originally RSVPed. All told, about 9 families came to this first event, which was essentially a meet and greet, but we also went over basic disaster preparedness and decided how often we wanted to continue these events.
We socialized for about 50 minutes and then I got the group together to talk about why I sent out the initial email and we discussed how prepared people felt they were in case of a major event, what else they should be doing and what kind of neighborhood contact list we should have and what kind of information we should have on it. Of those who had some stored supplies, they were mostly following the 3-day standard, but I suggested that thinking beyond that would make sense and even having a shared neighborhood resource for water filtration and the like would be of worth.
I proposed creating a Google doc that everyone could access to add information ranging from where to turn off their gas line to what special skills or equipment (see water filter) they had. The City of Seattle also offers signs for residents that say "OK" on one side and "HELP" on the other in case of an emergency that you can put in your window.
Conversation turned more towards establishing relationships for less exciting things than an earthquake and more like heavy traffic or snow tying them up and someone picking up or watching their kids during times of need. In other words, creating more of that neighborhood network that I envisioned.
We decided to meet the first Saturday of every month for an early evening deal, with alternating families hosting, which basically means pulling some chairs together. Fortunately, one of the neighbors has a 15-year-old daughter who babysat the little kids inside while we sat outside chatting, eating and drinking.
Because the group was so large and, I think, because many were there just to socialize, we didn't get too much decided by way of focusing on anything in particular for future meet-ups. I'll propose the next "theme" when I organize the next meeting and hopefully we'll get some more breakdown of particular group interests. I want to do a neighborhood garden tour and see what other people are growing. In the meantime, just getting people more familiar with each other is a good thing as is getting the ball rolling...