How We’re Coping

We Tried a Socially Distant Impromptu Block Party

It felt good to see other humans. We’re going to try it every day.

By Margaret Seiler March 18, 2020

“Since so many more of us are home during the day now (and can't go to the Mock Crest anymore for a while!), but we shouldn't really visit inside each other's houses, I was thinking it might be nice to have a time every day when people are invited to come outside, say hello (from a nice social distance), have a little human interaction outside of our families and work video conferences, see if anyone needs anything, and just generally check in. When would be good? 4 p.m.? 5 p.m.?”

I wrote this yesterday afternoon on my neighborhood’s Facebook page. Mostly, I was thinking about my older, retired neighbors whose routines of family visitors or drinks with friends at the local pub have been suspended, as well as the people I haven’t been seeing without my usual bus commute. But I was also thinking of a quittin’-time bell of sorts that would get me off my laptop in the amorphous schedule of a writer working from home.

Within a few minutes my neighbor Byron responded with “5 o clock happy hour !” It happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, so a few of us may or may not have broken that law about crossing a street with an open can of stout as we tried to stay 10 feet away from each other. Byron told anyone biking or walking past that we’d be here every day, and probably with wine if they wanted to bring their own glass.

There were introductions of people who just moved in. There was a glimpse of a six-month-old baby. There was a bit of soccer one-on-one that probably broke social distancing guidelines (note to self: tell my son his ball has to stay home). We chalked #OutsideAt5 in front of the houses of those who might not be on the Facebook page so they’d at least be curious to stick their heads out at 5 the next day. The highly connected Byron (Byron Beck, anointed Portland’s “Gossip Guy” by KPTV and others) spread the word, and today he’s hearing a lot of friends are planning their own #OutsideAt5 on their blocks on in their condo courtyards, with everyone staying six to 10 feet away from each other.

Afterward I came back inside and resisted the urge to go right back to work. I did open my laptop, but only to look up a new Irish soda bread recipe to try.

Filed under
Show Comments