Hey neighbor!

Alton Harvey Sr. likes the idea of being connected with his community
by: Jaime Valdez, Alton Harvey Sr., chairman of the Neighbors Southwest Neighborhood Association Committee, invites families to attend Saturday’s Get to Know Your Neighbor Picnic.

Alton Harvey Sr. is a firm believer that as a community we need to get back to the basics of what it means to be a neighbor.

That means leaving the comfort of our homes and getting out to meet our neighbors.

'Houses are so close together, but people don't know each other - that's nuts,' Harvey said. 'It's important to be involved with people and let them be involved with you.

'There's a treasure behind every door.'

As a community, neighbors need to be connected, he added.

'We are all in one fold,' Harvey said. 'We need to find reasons to bring us back together.'

Harvey's Get to Know Your Neighbor program and the Neighbors Southwest Neighborhood Association Committee are teaming up to accomplish that goal.

Families across the community are invited to attend the fourth annual Get to Know Your Neighbor Picnic.

The community celebration will take place from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday as neighbors take over the block along Southwest Kingbird Drive in Murrayhill.

'The picnic will take place in this block,' said Harvey as he toured the neighborhood with his wife Mary and 11-year-old granddaughter Brandi. 'This is where it will stay until we reach the end of the block and fill the circle with people.

'We want to stay here, it's the community.'

Involved life

The picnic will feature games for children and a potluck feast.

'How many places can you have an international banquet on your street?' Harvey said. 'We encourage folks to bring a dish to share, but the main thing we want you to bring is yourself.

'This is an opportunity to come and share your life with me and I will share with you.'

Mary Harvey plans to make her trademark barbecue ribs and baked beans.

'I'm looking forward to meeting all the different people, tasting all the different foods and just having a good time,' she said.

Brandi, who will soon begin sixth grade at Highland Park Middle School, also plans to make something special for the picnic.

'I'm making lemonade,' she said proudly. 'I'm looking forward to having fun, getting to know different people and learn about different cultures, different languages and different everything.'

Brandi's comments brought a smile to her grandfather's face.

'Food brings people together,' Harvey said. 'Once people come together, they get out of the fear zone that keeps us segregated, keeps us isolated and keeps us separate.

'We need to involve ourselves with each other's lives. When someone needs help, we are right there to help. If we notice something wrong, we are on top of it. We are all accountable for what goes on in our community. Together, we can break down barriers and look after each other.'