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Party of Eight

Team members: Row 1 (l-r): Jordi Yarborough, Angel Johnson-Brebner, Marc Marchant
Row 2 (l-r): Edward McKelvey, Adrian Grimes, Cindi Gardner, Peter Tecklenburg
Not pictured: Chase Glenn 

Project:  Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Neighborhood “Front Porch” Block Party

Borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor is good for your health. It’s not the sugar, it’s the social connection!  In the last 50 years, rates of loneliness have doubled in the United States. In a survey of over 20,000 American adults, almost half of respondents reported feeling alone, left out, and isolated. Former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy identified a global loneliness epidemic that has serious effects on our health. Charleston is one of the most rapidly gentrifying cities in the United States which generates change, creates tension from affordable housing shortages, and threatens the cultural fabric of many neighborhoods. How can neighbors find ways to connect and offer kind words to one another?

The Neighborhood “Front Porch” Block Party Project’s mission is to make available to neighborhoods throughout the city an adaptable template, equipment, and materials for neighborhoods in Charleston to create block party events that promote relationship building.  The Neighborhood Porch Party Project will increase connection among neighbors, decrease loneliness, and provide opportunities for people to meet their neighbors, share food, drinks, and have friendly conversations while gathering informally in their own streets, sidewalks, parks. Neighbors will get to know each other, build stronger relationships, and build stronger communities.

In cooperation with the City of Charleston, this project will provide a Porch Party trailer that will be supplied with chairs, tables, safety cones, games, first aid kit, tents, planning and resource notebook to make the Neighborhood Porch Party accessible and easy.  The planning and resource notebook will include suggestions for reaching out to neighborhood police and fire departments, neighborhood houses of worship, schools, restaurants, businesses and other stakeholders about ways to join the Porch Party and build the connections.  The Inaugural Neighborhood Porch Party will be in March/April 2019 at McManus Park, in the North Central neighborhood. Expect kindness and connection!  The Porch Party trailer stocked with party supplies will be donated to the City of Charleston for future porch swinging.

Neighborly facts:

  1. More than half of Americans experience loneliness.
  2. Adults born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s feel more isolated and lonely than adults ages 72 and older.
  3. Using social media increases feelings of loneliness.
  4. "Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wrote earlier this year in the Harvard Business Review.
  5. Regular exercise can decrease feelings of loneliness.
  6. Helping others can increase positive feelings and decrease loneliness.  Helping can be as simple as sharing a smile, saying "hello", holding a door for someone, asking someone about their day.
  7. Knowing your neighbors increases safety for you and your neighbors.
  8. There is strength in numbers - you and your neighbors make a powerful team!