The Town of Chapel Hill is hosting a community cookout to promote the Good Neighbor Initiative, which seeks to strengthen relationships and decrease disruptive behavior in areas where students and non-students live close to one another.
On Wednesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Hargraves Community Center, off-campus students, residents and others will join together for entertainment and a celebration of community.
The Good Neighbor Initiative Community Cookout is a free event open to all and will have free food from Al’s Burger Shack and Ben & Jerry’s.
Aaron Bachenheimer, executive director of off-campus student life and community partnerships at UNC Student Affairs, said there should be one table for arts and crafts and a table for board games. He added that there will be soccer, frisbees and a DJ, with a visit from Musical Empowerment — a UNC organization that teaches children about music.
The Good Neighbor Initiative partners with UNC, the Town of Chapel Hill, the Town of Carrboro and other community organizations with the mission of establishing connections between off-campus students and residents. Other organizations include the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, EMPOWERment, Inc. and the Downtown Chapel Hill Partnership.
Bachenheimer said the idea behind the cookout is for people to show up, eat free food and enjoy being in community with each other.
“Part of the hope of the Good Neighbor Initiative just largely is that when students do move off campus, that they find opportunities to just get involved in the community,” Bachenheimer said.
Sarah Viñas, director of affordable housing and community connections with the Town of Chapel Hill, said once people get to know each other and see each other as friends and neighbors they are less likely to do things that are not consistent with being a good neighbor.
Bachenheimer said the primary neighborhoods that the Good Neighbor Initiative has focused on historically are Northside, Pine Knolls and Cameron-McCauley. He added that the Northside neighborhood is a historically Black community — going back many generations.