Photo by Erika Fleegle

Residents of Manchester enjoyed the return of the second annual Community Block Party on Saturday, July 18, 2015.

By Erika Fleegle

After its hiatus of almost thirty years, the Manchester community has a reason to celebrate again as the Manchester Citizen’s Corporation (MCC) hosted its second annual Community Block Party near Manchester Field July 18.

Despite the heat, community members came out to enjoy food, performances and each other’s company. For the young (and young-at-heart), scavenger hunts, bingo games and a pie-eating contest also took place.

LaShawn Burton-Faulk, Executive Director of the MCC and Northside Leadership Conference president, was on hand to talk about the developments the community has made in recent years.

“It’s all about giving back to the seasoned people,” she said, referencing the older population of Manchester.

Years ago, Manchester hosted a weekend-long community festival, though it disappeared as, according to Burton-Faulk, “things got crazy.” In the past few years, the MCC has had the opportunity to work with various nonprofits and students through the University of Pittsburgh’s Brown Fellowship in order to further their own mission of community development and the reduction of abandoned spaces.

“I started thinking about what I could give the students to do,” Burton-Faulk said. “There needed to be a takeaway for the students and the community.”

The result was, for the MCC, “more than bricks and mortar.”  While focus was placed on creating affordable housing and safe spaces for interaction, Burton-Faulk noticed a common thread emerging in the community, one that centered on belonging. Using this as her inspiration, she put the students to work creating community-centered events like the block party.

In the past two years that the block party has been active, this thread is no doubt stronger. Community members, whether lounging in the shade, enjoying food fresh off the grill or running in and out of an inflatable bounce house seemed tighter-knit than before.

“This is the most rewarding part for me,” she said, “watching the student growth and seeing the community come together.”

Since the block party has come back into existence, a marked difference has been noted in terms of community meeting attendance. According to Burton-Faulk, more people are attending the meetings and feeling good about knowing each other.

“They’re worth it,” she said about the community members. “They’re the reason why we’re here.”

DSC_0994

Photo by Erika Fleegle

Roshelle Moye (left), stops to talk to Officer Kramer of Zone One during the Manchester Community Block Party.