Block party unites Northeast Central Durham


Hundreds of people gathered Sept. 6 in Northeast Central Durham to support each other and shed a positive light on the community. What better way to do so than with a block party?

A community block party for Northeast Central Durham drew a crowd to North Driver Street for food, fun and activities. Photo by Adrienne Stephens.

A community block party for Northeast Central Durham drew a crowd to North Driver Street for food, fun and activities. (Staff photo by Adrienne Stephens)

The block party focused on children, engaging them in different activities such as Zumba, face painting, and bike riding. They also took turns jumping around in a Mega Bounce Bouncy House. The event was organized by Communities in Partnership (CIP), a group from Northeast Durham community that focuses on uniting the neighborhood.

“I think the community block party will bring a difference to the community because the kids will see positive people within the area, and that will help kids to know that people do support them,” said Tiara Lassiter, who has lived in Northeast Central Durham more than five years.

From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., people from the community came out to North Driver Street to share in all of the fun, food and fellowship. This gave them a chance to meet and greet each other, while coming together to figure out more ways to help the neighborhood.

“I came out to the block party to support East Durham,” said Lassiter. “They are going through the process of being revitalized and I wanted to make sure that my face was seen.”

The neighborhood needed a change after children were shot and injured from a shooting on North Driver Street three years ago, said Ernest Smith, who works with CIP as a community organizer. Smith has worked as a community organizer for CIP for more than three years.

“We started coming together and saying what is it that we can do in order to build the community,” Smith said. “The first meeting happened after the shooting. The police said ‘board up your windows, don’t let your kids go outside and play.’ And that’s not an acceptable answer for a neighborhood.”

His group came up with the idea of having monthly potlucks to get to know the residents better, and educate them about the neighborhood’s crime statistics. The potlucks were such a success, they decided to hold block parties to reach out to more people.

“We use the potlucks as a place for education and informing the community of what’s happening,” Smith said. “And informing ourselves of our history so we can be better equipped when forces come into our community. Then we can say ‘this is what we want,’ instead of someone else dictating what our community should be and should look like.”

Many parents come to the block party to support their children and their neighbors. Michael Ward, who also lives in the area, said that’s why he came to the block party.

“The block party is good for the community because you get to meet and mingle,” said Ward.

Smith hopes the block party will continue reaching more people.

“The outcome of the block party is to build a greater and stronger community,” he said.




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