Bennington Block Party: Neighbors, Collaboration and Revitalization
On Saturday, July 30, the Town of Bennington, along with a number of local organizations, put on a block party for the residents and businesses of Pleasant Street. The two-hour event included free food, family-friendly activities, music and a street clean-up effort, all in the name of fostering community connectedness.
The event was part of the municipality’s community revitalization effort known as Project Catalyst, and included the support of the Vermont Department of Health, the Bennington Chamber of Commerce, the Alliance for Community Transformations, United Counseling Service, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless, all of whom were part of the planning committee. Local organizations, businesses and residents also played an active role in ensuring the success of the event.
The idea for this effort came from feedback obtained from residents on the street who had participated in a neighborhood survey, indicating that a block party would be a good way for residents to get to know one another. Coupled with the goals of Project Catalyst, participants were able to enjoy an afternoon of fun through direct engagement and information sharing.
Over 300 meals were served at the event, which were prepared by members of the Bennington police and fire departments and served by volunteers. Activities included shirt tie-dying, water balloon toss, face painting, jumbo building blocks, health screenings and appearances by a mini pony and two small goats.
More than 24 organizations were represented at the block party along with dozens of volunteers.
“This event proved that community outreach and revitalization continues to be a top priority for Bennington, and that compassion is still one of Vermont’s greatest strengths,” shared Michael Harrington, Bennington’s economic and community development director and co-coordinator of the event. “I am so appreciative of all of the organizations and individuals who put time and effort into this event to make it a success.”
Project Catalyst is a town-wide effort that works to bring about impactful change to high-risk communities within the town of Bennington by focusing resources in specific neighborhoods aimed to increase the engagement of local residents, youth and businesses interested in bringing about revitalization. More information can be found at the group’s website: project-catalyst.org.