Imagine a monthly gathering that brings together neighbors of all ages, feeding not just their bellies, but their sense of community. Welcome to 'First Fridays'—a simple concept with large impact, transforming ordinary driveways into vibrant hubs, and neighbors into friends.
COMMUNITY! This wonderful feeling has been quietly growing in the East Seattle neighborhood for 2 ½ years. Angela and James Johnson moved from the east side of Mercer Island to the East Seattle neighborhood in 2016. A friend in Northern California had started a monthly event she called “First Friday.” Angela thought it would be a fun community-building opportunity, a great way to meet her neighbors and, importantly, simple and easy to implement.
With the onset of COVID, people missed socializing. It seemed to Angela like the perfect time to start an East Seattle “First Friday”, since the person hosting would have the event outside in a backyard, driveway or garage. Start time would be around 5:30 pm, ending usually about 8 pm. Neighbors were welcome to casually drop by when it worked for them.
On April 2, 2021, Angela and James hosted the first “First Friday” in their driveway. Ten people came. Month by month attendance increased. The Evite list now has 80 names and is still growing. It isn’t complicated to be a host. Sign up for a month. Set up a table with an appetizer, a dessert, and something to drink. Everyone that comes brings something to share and their own drink. Angela sends out the Evite email and hosts are encouraged to invite new neighbors, which everyone seems to do. Angela said, “In the almost two and a half years of arranging “First Fridays”, it’s been amazing to see the new friendships, connections and community feelings that have been built from this one gathering each month.” She adds, “I like to call it potluck happy hour”.
At the recent August “First Friday”, nearly 50 people gathered in Erik and Heather Henne’s backyard. There were neighbors of all ages, from seniors to newly marrieds and families with young children. It has been a wonderful way to really get to know your neighbors! We hope other neighborhoods on Mercer Island might be inspired to try this kind of event. You will NOT be disappointed. “First Fridays” are a way to keep that feeling of community alive ALL year. It has made our neighborhood a more inclusive and friendlier place. Give it a try! You might be surprised by the people you’ll meet and enjoy in your own neighborhood!