Familiarity breeds strong communities

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Mary and Josh O’Rourke looked around their neighborhood one day and realized it was full of kids for the first time in a long time.

“In the last couple years, all of these young families are moving in,” said Mary O’Rourke.

So the return of National Night Out Aug. 6 after a two-year hiatus seemed like the perfect time to get to know them better.

“Littleton neighbors and business owners are encouraged to organize block parties to strengthen neighborhood spirit and develop community partnerships with the police department,” reads the city’s website, and the O’Rourkes are all about that.

They’re members of the Littleton Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, volunteers with South Platte Park and generally in the know about Littleton goings-on. They saw a chance to share that knowledge with the younger generation, many of whom were unfamiliar with even Western Welcome Week.

So they made up fliers and door-hangers and hit the streets in their Little’s Creek Park neighborhood, encouraging people to bring side dishes, chairs and donations for the local food bank.

Turnout was great, with oodles of kids enjoying outside activities like chalk art. Old-timers introduced themselves to the young’uns, city council candidates schmoozed, and everyone got to know each other better than just the occasional wave from across the street.

Anna and J.J. Stewart watched their four kids, ages 3 to 15, playing with other little ones, and said it’s been great for them to have so many new friends moving in.

“We just love the neighborhood,” said Anna Stewart, citing the parks, friends, church and the community as a whole as plusses.

NNO’s return was strong, with nearly 40 parties registered.

“It’s nice to see folks out and talking to each other,” Councilor Phil Cernanec said during the council meeting later that night. “It’s really the strength of the community.”

“After two years of watching it kind of go down the dump, it’s back and it’s good,” agreed Councilor Bruce Beckman.