My last week at the Jackson Center was somewhat of a whirlwind of constant meetings and emailing, but I was so happy to see all of our hard work come together on September 13th at the Good Neighbor Block Party at the Hargraves Community Center. This summer, I was fortunate enough to be one of the first Summer Fellows at the Jackson Center and was charged with coordinating the Good Neighbor Initiative walk-around and block party in partnership with many community players.
Since 2004, the Good Neighbor Initiative has aimed to promote positive living experiences in neighborhoods where students and non-students live in close proximity, including Northside and Pine Knolls. In collaboration with several other community partners and organizations, this year we had an incredibly successful walk-around, where students, neighbors, and other citizens wen door to door to talk to students about what it means to be a good neighbor. After the walk-around, we had several pop-up events hosted by our Northside Neighbors to help welcome students to the neighborhood and invite them to the last Good Neighbor Initiative event: the GNI Block Party at Hargraves!
Before interning at the Jackson Center, I had never heard of the Good Neighbor Initiative and while I was involved in the planning I was unsure as to how it would unfold the day of. From meeting new neighbors to dancing and ‘getting down’ with old neighbors, I couldn’t help but be grateful to be in a space where so many community partners were willing to put in the work to welcome neighbors and community members.
Being able to spend the summer in Chapel Hill and get to know this area and this community made seeing everyone coming together and just having a good time all worth it. It also made me appreciate the diversity of Chapel Hill as not only students, but families and elderly came out to enjoy the party. Even the Orange County Jammers, a local senior citizen cheerleading squad, were able to show that anyone at any age can have fun and I was glad to cheer along with them. Of course, I made sure to join a some kids later on in a dance circle and picked up some new dance moves as well. Needless to say, the block party was a big hit, but this was only made possible by the spirit and energy of those who attended, those who make the Chapel Hill community what it is today. I look forward to continuing to celebrate my neighborhood not only as a student, but as a member of the Chapel Hill community.