Pedaling our way to a more connected neighbourhood

By Gina Olivieri

Organising a Neighbour Day event is as easy as riding a bike! Or at least, it would have been, had the weather forecast not threatened to destroy our event with storms, gale-force winds and rain.

“I think we should cancel”, I said.

“Let’s make the call on Sunday morning,” said Mel, “the forecast has a sunshine symbol at 4pm.”

“I dunno, there’s also a lightning symbol at 3pm and a rainy cloud at 5pm.”

And so it went on, back and forth. After all our planning, would we get rained out?

Luckily we decided to go ahead, with a scaled-down event that ended up taking place in glorious sunshine. We ditched the bean bags, the Corn Hole games and hot drinks, sticking with a Scavenger Hunt and Pedal-Powered Smoothie Bike as our drawcards.

You read that right. A pedal-powered smoothie bike. Borrowed from a local high school, the bike was a hit, with neighbourhood kids taking turns whizzing up healthy drinks. The apple, banana and berry smoothies were delicious; the apple juice was made with apples donated from neighbours’ trees, the berries came from Cait’s garden, and the bananas were left over from the recent Zero Waste Expo.

Thirty neighbours showed up for a chat, a smoothie and a stroll around the neighbourhood with their kids, spotting the local landmarks in the Scavenger Hunt. About half our attendees were young people, and it’s so nice being able to say hi and call them by name as I see them zooming about on scooters or playing in front yards now.

If you have never run a Neighbour Day event, why not give it a go next year? Or find any old excuse for a get-together with your neighbours. I think you will be surprised at how much people want to connect and after all, it is really as easy as riding a bike!

Gina was part of the organising team for her local Neighbour Day, and the Tell Us Your Story winner for Tasmania.