A passionate group of locals are bringing back street parties; a wonderful Eden tradition and a great way to bring neighbours together and build the strong social connections much needed before, during and after disasters.
A small group led by Peter Whiter has been working together at the Disaster Preparedness Project Lab every second Thursday to put together three neighbourhood street parties, starting with a get-together at the Eden Lookout.
Over 20 residents of the Lookout, the area just above the wharf precinct in Eden, attended the group’s first neighbourhood street party on Friday March 31.
The aim is to continue to bring neighbours together to connect and gradually discuss ways they can share their preparedness plans and support one another in an emergency.
Peter said the Lookout community used to hold regular street parties, but in the years before the fires they became less regular and then stopped altogether.
“When we spoke to people in that neighbourhood, we discovered they either remembered the parties fondly and were positive about bringing them back or were new to the area and loved the idea.”
The Project Lab (short for laboratory) is a space for the community to come together and work on projects to build community preparedness for future disaster events. The Project Lab meets fortnightly at the Eden Library event space.
Jodie Stewart, Disaster Preparedness Coordinator and co-host of the Project Lab, says the Lab has created a sense of shared purpose, bringing together a community of like-minded people passionate about making positive change.
“The Lab has become an important space for people to connect and work on projects that matter to them and their community.
“Teams at the Lab are working on a range of things including disaster preparedness education and information projects, and a project to revitalise street parties and get-togethers.
Prepare to Party is a catchy play on words that sums up the aims of this new take on street parties – to party and to prepare the community for future disaster events.
As Peter says: “When our group got together we asked the question; How can the community be prepared if we don’t really know or feel comfortable around our neighbours? We soon agreed that it was really important to bring back street parties as a way of connecting people.”
Jodie says the success of the Lookout event is a great outcome of the hard work of the project team. It also shows the community is keen to come together, have fun and connect.
“Community connectedness is such an important part of building stronger communities. It leads to better preparedness and a community that can come together and recover well from disaster”
The Prepare to Party project team hopes to host a further two street parties in Eden and develop a ‘how-to’ guide so other neighbourhoods in Eden and surrounds can host their own street parties.
Lookout resident Viv Hughes says it was great to get together.
“My husband and I didn’t live here during the time that parties were held but heard so much about how wonderful they were. We’re big fans of the idea of bringing people together socially so we can support one another.”
Peter says the how to guide will make it easy for other neighbourhoods to put on similar events.
“We’d love to see all of Eden Prepare to Party.”
Want to set up a street party for your neighbourhood? Get in touch with Jodie Stewart on 0488 079 853 or firstname.lastname@example.org