We are well-known in Renton for our lively, creative celebrations, especially for our wonderful neighborhood picnics. Sponsored by the city’s Neighborhood Program every summer, we have picnics throughout our city where neighbors get to know each other and just have fun. There’s nothing better than a great party and picnic in our neighborhoods as a way to celebrate our city and build a sense of community and connection with our neighbors.
The city’s Neighborhood Program has been successful beyond our wildest dreams and our neighborhood picnics are a shining example of the program’s ability to bring neighbors together. Each summer, the various neighborhood associations organize and hold picnics in their respective areas to bring residents together, connect city officials with residents, and honor the uniqueness and accomplishments of their neighborhoods. This year we have 53 “officially recognized” neighborhoods and there are several neighborhood picnics planned between mid-June and mid-September. In 2008, there were 19 neighborhood picnics and 3,800 people participated.
Hundreds of residents attend the picnics, enjoying potluck food, hotdogs, lemonade, games for children and more. The fun-filled activities from the city’s fire and police departments are extremely popular, and neighbors also have a chance to meet the mayor and City Council in a relaxed atmosphere. Our neighborhood events now draw anywhere from a hundred people to several hundred people who spend an evening talking to each other and making important connections.
The city’s Neighborhood Program has a lot more to offer. People get together to build projects, clean up their community and help enhance the quality of life in Renton’s neighborhoods. The program helps inspire and sustain neighborhood relationships that provide the foundation of civic action and creates a strong partnership between the city and its residents. The goals of the program are to improve communication; create more public involvement throughout the city; help neighborhood groups and communities engage in how their communities are changing; and help residents prioritize their needs, identify their assets and assist them in strengthening the community.
To participate in the city’s program, it is important to have your neighborhood recognized by the city. Each recognized neighborhood is assigned a city employee to serve as the neighborhood’s liaison. Recognized neighborhoods are eligible for grants to help fund neighborhood improvement projects like welcome signs, traffic circles, pocket parks and more. And of course, neighborhoods can enjoy their annual picnic.
I invite you to join me at the neighborhood picnics this year. Come meet your neighbors and celebrate in your neighborhood or meet new neighbors at one of the other neighborhood picnics. We have just posted the picnic calendar for 2009 on the city’s Web site at rentonwa.gov and click on neighborhoods under Living. For more information please contact Norma McQuiller at email@example.com by phone at 425-430-6595.
Don Persson is a longtime member of the Renton City Council. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org