On the evening of May 10, Cranston residents were invited to Cucina Rustica for the first of several “Neighbors and Friends Night” events.
OneCranston, an initiative of the Comprehensive Community Action Program, or CCAP, organized the gathering.
The event was free and open to anyone living or working in Cranston, and there were approximately 25 residents in attendance. Billed as a “free night of conversation, connection, and food,” the event lived up to those expectations.
Guests were treated to a buffet courtesy of OneCranston and had the chance to connect with each other informally at the start of the night. For fun, a “picture match up” challenge was available to those who wished to participate. It had guests trying to name various Cranston locations pictured in the packet.
OneCranston director Ayana Crichton and community engagement specialist Caitlyn Blankenship were both on hand to facilitate the event. Around the perimeter of the room were interactive posters that asked guests to provide feedback on topics such as what they love about where they live and what anchors them in Cranston.
Applications for the next round of Community Builder grants were available, and Crichton spoke about some of the programs that past grants were used for, including a neighborhood block party designed to connect neighbors with each other. The next round of grant applications is due on July 12 and projects must be completed by Sept. 30. Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded for projects that help bring residents together and improve communities.
Guests were rounded up for an icebreaker activity, which asked them to introduce themselves and share one good thing that happened to them recently. Following that activity, suggestions were taken for roundtable discussion topics. Suggestions included volunteerism, unifying the eastern and western sides of the city, creating more public-private partnerships and creating more affordable after school programs for children.
The roundtable discussions took place for approximately 20 minutes and participants shared their ideas, concerns and suggestions.
To finish out the event, a “Marketplace” activity took place. It allowed guests to announce an offer of service, a need for something or take advantage of an offer someone had already put on the board. Guests shared their offers, many related to their job skills, and connections were made.
There will be another event announced in the coming weeks.