Block parties, safety fairs and food trucks are some of the ways that Palo Alto residents have been connecting through events made possible by the City's "Know Your Neighbors" grants program. In April, the City Council allocated $25,000 for the pilot program to help build a sense of community, and bridge connections between generations and cultures. The program has been so popular the City received many more applications than available funding, and anticipates it will have awarded all of the grants by mid-summer.
Around town, residents have held a block party at Palo Verde School to build emergency preparation kits; held a week-long neighborhood camp in the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood ending with a Friday night block party; hosted a Food Truck Friday social at Johnson Park and organized a crime prevention and safety fair in the Leland Manor neighborhood. The next events on the schedule are Palo Alto Yoga Day on June 21 at Rinconada Park, an Emerson Street Block party on June 23, and a summer social on June 29 in the San Antonio Road neighborhood.
“Know Your Neighbors” was piloted in part to address the changing demographics of the City and the impact on neighborhood connections, residential experiences and daily quality of life. The 2010 census data showed that Palo Alto has experienced a significant demographic shift in its population over the last two decades with 17 percent of residents now over the age of 65 and nearly 30 percent identifying themselves as Asian or Asian-American. The grant funding was intended to bring people together to enhance the quality of life for everyone in Palo Alto.
Activities funded under the Neighborhood Grants program are required to increase communication among neighbors, enhance neighborhood pride and identity, bring neighbors together across generations and cultures, and create new and innovative ideas for neighborhood events.
The grant-funded events will continue through the fall. Neighborhood groups receiving grants are required to submit an evaluation of the event outlining how it helped strengthen the neighborhood, number of attendees, and if the project was successful.
For more information on the “Know Your Neighbors” program, go here.