On Saturday, June 2, 2018, Vermont will become the first state in the US to hold a statewide celebration of Neighbors Day.
Neighbors Day was created in 1999 by Atanse Périfan, the deputy mayor of the 17th arrondissement in Paris, after the unnoticed passing of an elderly resident. Périfan created Neighbors Day to help create bonds between strangers and since its inception, it has spread to more than 30 countries on 5 continents.
Last year the Village of Essex Junction was the first local municipality to celebrate Neighbors Day in Vermont. After the success of that event, the organizers decided that Vermont would be the perfect place to launch a celebration of Neighbors Day as a statewide event. With the help of Vermont Representatives Lori Houghton and Dylan Giambatista of Essex Junction, a Resolution was written and passed to declare Neighbors Day the first Saturday in June across the state of Vermont.
The concept is basic - dedicate at least one day a year to get to know your neighbors. Neighbors Day can be a bbq, a plant swap, or an ice cream social, but it is not a party for an entire village or town. Instead, it is a small scale gathering in neighborhoods to help people make connections with each other and to promote feelings of belonging. The size and type of events are completely up to the residents themselves.
There are many reasons that this is an important event, especially as the political climate in the US creates a divide between many people in our communities. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has conducted many studies on neighborhoods and health and there is undisputed evidence that there is a correlation between the feelings of mutual trust in a neighborhood and the overall health and safety of its residents. Additionally, Front Porch Forum which has done an outstanding job of connecting local communities, is partnering with our organization to run a statewide awareness campaign.
Upon learning about the Neighbors Day Resolution, Senator Patrick Leahy stated, “All Vermonters know that the strength of Vermont lies in our close-knit communities. We have a deep tradition of helping each other. So it’s fitting that our state will have the first statewide ‘Neighbors Day’ in the nation. Americans are spending more time in our back yards, and ‘Neighbors Day’ will help bring us back to our front porches again.”
We are looking for doers, dynamos, and dependable characters who like celebrations, conversations, and civic engagement to help. This year many residents will be showing their state pride by planning a Neighbors Day events in their neighborhoods!
Visit our website, http://neighborsdayvt.org to read more about this history of this event and to find out ideas for your Neighbors Day celebration on June 2nd.