A few weeks ago we decided to have a housewarming for our new home. The plan was to have an open house over the weekend in the hope that this would maximise the number of people who could attend.
Rather than just invite friends and relatives, we wanted to use it as a way of also meeting the neighbours, so a fortnight in advance of the weekend we posted invites to the houses on our 'block'. The invite was thrown together pretty quick, rushed through on our printer, and just said that we were new to the area and wanted to say hello.
We had a really nice time, although at one point it was crazily manic as a load of people descended on us all at the same time on Saturday afternoon. Most of these, however, were not strangers from the block.
Of the 45 invites dropped through letterboxes, a total of 8 people came over (representing 6 households). That's a response rate of 18%, I think (I never was very good with percentages so correct me if I got that wrong). Not bad, I suppose, although I was hoping it would be more.
In fact, I did worry that the entire street would pop in all at the same time, but obviously that would never happen. Also, if you take into account the fact that a lot of houses in our area are student-let (therefore not necessarily being rented out yet), and people only had two weeks notice then the turnout rate seems even better.
Wifey and I are really passionate about community because we believe it's a force for good that ultimately keeps us safe, sane and happy (and is a reflection of what God wants for humankind). People have hundreds of friends on Facebook across the globe but hardly know their next door neighbours. This 'experi-party' was our little attempt at trying to kickstart a bit of community lovin'. Whether it worked or not remains to be seen.
Obviously, you can't expect to see relationships blossom and communities form all because of a one-off event. The hard bit is taking the time to develop those encounters into something more meaningful and long-term.
Maybe we need to have another party ... mince pie, anyone?