The annual Campus Meets Community Block Party is back! It will take place on Thursday, Sept. 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Martin Luther King Commons and is free and open to all NIU students, faculty and staff. The Block Party is a chance for local businesses and nonprofits to welcome the NIU community back to campus each fall and to introduce all the DeKalb area has to offer.
“The block party began four years ago, when local organizations reached out to the university and wanted a way to welcome the NIU community to DeKalb,” says Jennifer Groce, NIU director of community promotions in the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development. “The block party is a really fun atmosphere, with music, vendors and free food samples. It’s a great way for students, faculty and staff to find out what’s going on in DeKalb and learn about local businesses and organizations.”
The DeKalb County Health Department will be present to answer questions and provide free COVID-19 vaccinations. Mortenson will provide free water to those attending and sponsor the Mortenson Innovation Alley, highlighting campus and community innovation partnerships student and faculty can get involved in.
“This is a wonderful chance for both students and faculty to connect with local businesses as well as nonprofits in the area, including Tails Humane Society, Youth Service Bureau and the Egyptian Theatre,” says Groce. “Maybe they’d like to partner with a local business or nonprofit for a class project, find a place to volunteer or find services that they’d like to use. DeKalb County has a rich collection of nonprofits that provide social services, community improvement, and arts and culture.”
Students and staff can enjoy free food samples from Barb City Bagels, the Lincoln Inn, Burritoville, Meijer, Jimmy Johns and other local grocery stores and restaurants. They’ll also get to learn about the sport and art of skateboarding from the staff of DeKalb’s own Fargo Skateboarding.
Groce is especially looking forward to an interactive exhibit provided by the DeKalb Belonging Council and public radio station WNIJ during the block party.
“After Dr. john a powell visited DeKalb in October of 2020 for a conversation about creating a culture of belonging in our community, the Belong initiative began. The City of DeKalb and NIU have partnered with local nonprofits to create a Belonging Council, have diversity dialogues and create works of art, such as Faces of Belonging – a moving exhibit of portraits on local buses,” says Groce. “I’m thrilled that the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts will be taking photographs and WNIJ will be collecting audio interviews for a pop-up Belonging exhibit during the block party.”
Mark your calendar for the Campus Meets Community Block Party on Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.