National Night Out: A tradition that weaves communities together
As the first Tuesday of August approaches, Marie Phillipi hand-delivers invitations to her neighbors for their annual National Night Out (NNO) party on their Southeast Portland block. Over the past few years, this small gesture has improved turnout and encouraged new neighbors to attend. National Night Out gives everyone the chance to meet neighbors they had been waving to for months and even years. At the party, residents bring tables, chairs and potluck dishes to set up in a neighbor’s front yard. Past participants find that a neighborhood party is powerful to foster new relationships and bring communities closer together.
Ute Munger, another Southeast Portland resident, says: “It’s a time for all of us neighbors to get together, share news, food, joy, as well as fasten our friendships and commitment to watch out for each other.”
Gatherings can be simple to plan and require little expense with a big benefit. Celebrated since 1983, National Night Out organizers believe that when neighbors know each other, pay attention to the activities on their street and work together to address public safety or livability issues, the neighborhood becomes a safer place to live.
The Office of Civic & Community Life is responsible for coordinating the event every year. Director Suk Rhee encourages Portlanders to come together and celebrate the many communities that can be found in one neighborhood: “We believe that community members have the power to shape our city for the future. National Night Out is a wonderful opportunity to build more interconnected neighborhoods where all neighbors feel safe and welcome.”
This year, National Night Out will be held on Tuesday, August 7, and National Night Out parties may be held in Portland from August 3 to August 12.
Want to see if there’s a party you can join in your neighborhood? At the end of July, a list of larger events will be posted online.
Want to throw a party? The deadline to register for a National Night Out celebration is July 24. To learn how to reserve a park or street for an event, and more details on organizing a NNO party, visit our website. You can request appearances from Portland Police Officers and Fire Department members to attend your registered event to build trust with your local service providers.
Popular National Night Out activities include:
A welcome table—offer name tags so you can start getting acquainted! Also, ask neighbors to sign in. Create or update a neighborhood contact list with household names including email addresses and phone numbers. With this list, neighbors can communicate with each other more easily. Don’t wait until a problem occurs to get to know your neighbors. When you are connected, you can be better prepared to address crime, public safety issues, and improve the overall feeling of safety in your neighborhood.
Icebreaker activities—how well do you know your neighbors?
- Swap and donate table
- Bicycle parade
- Sports in the yard, park or blocked off street
- Water balloon toss
- Hula hooping
- Musical chairs
To request a free training for your organization or community group on crime prevention topics, access our prevention handouts or find your Crime Prevention Coordinator, visit the City of Portland’s Crime Prevention Program website for information in English or information in Spanish, or call 503-823-4064.