“Neighbour Day is a vehicle for residents to connect and engage with each other. It fosters relationships in the neighbourhood throughout the planning process and culminates in an inclusive, vibrant event. All are invited to participate in a shared celebration of Upper Victoria Park and its place in the broader community that is Lethbridge.” - UVPNA Neighbour Day Mission Statement
The Upper Victoria Park Neighbor Day is an annual event held by the Upper Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association (UVPNA) and supported by the City of Lethbridge. What started out in 2004 as a series of coordinated garage sales, has grown over the years into a neighbourhood-focused street fair, celebrating all things neighbourly. The event is organized by the UVPNA board and a dedicated team of volunteers who start planning in January and meet once a month until the event in June. With everything from budgets, to garage sales, to potluck arrangements and entertainment, the UVPNA team is a busy bunch!
Not only do they plan one superb block party, but they also do it with the environment in mind. Having a sustainability coordinator and volunteers dubbed “The Green Team'' has allowed Neighbour Day to continue its success as an eco-friendly event. The event committee recognizes that everyone will benefit from ensuring that they have a smaller ecological footprint.
Some of their wasteless highlights include:
- Using smaller double-sided flyers printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper which are delivered on foot. However, most of their advertising is done through email and social media.
- Signs are reused every year.
- Local vendors at the event are asked prior to participating what measures they are taking or are planning to take to promote sustainable consumption and reduce waste. Measures include reducing single-use plastics, providing recyclable containers and diverting food waste from the landfill
- Promotion of the positive efforts by vendors and community members on social media.
- Bulk drinking water is supplied for the event to encourage the use of reusable cups. Small compostable paper cups are provided for those who don’t bring their own.
- Waste sorting stations are set up at the fair and the potluck with a blue cart (recyclables), a green cart (compost) and a black cart (landfill). Volunteers monitor these stations to help direct users to the appropriate cart. By doing this not only is contamination reduced but community knowledge is advanced regarding proper sorting and disposal of waste.
Those are just a few of the many practices the UVPNA uses to reduce waste while also having a good time. When the event is over, the composition, volume and weight of waste in each cart is recorded, compared with that of previous years and communicated to event organizers with suggestions for improvements. When the measure of having people bring their dishes to the community potluck was first introduced in 2016, 20kg of waste was collected. The 2019 potluck saw only 8.7kg of waste collected, a reduction of 57%. Total waste collected at the 2019 street fair, with several hundred attendees, weighed only 12.8 kg and less than half of that was sent to the landfill This speaks to the success of the environmental practices that Neighbour Day has implemented.
Not only is the event a success at reducing waste, but it is also a success at bringing together the neighbourhood. The large number of volunteers interacting with their neighbours creates a greater sense of community. within the Upper Victoria Park Neighbourhood and beyond. The Neighbour Day event is definitely a model for other events in the city to follow.
Written by Brooklyn Kolb.
Volunteers help sort materials.
Good times had by all!