Who says the kampung spirit is dead?
Meet residents from Jln Bintang Tiga. For 20 years as of writing, they have kept their special street party tradition alive.
The residents would come together annually on National Day.
The parties started out small. There were few families present and it involved a simple potluck dinner.
Since 2013, the event has even been supported by the Singapore Kindness Movement!
One of the residents, James Suresh pointed out:
We had a small gathering at the suggestion of one of our old neighbours who has since moved out. It piqued the curiosity of some of the other neighbours, and so we decided to organise a proper party that everyone could attend.
The yearly tradition has grown much from its humble beginnings: better organization, more food, more participants, and most of all, more joy.
Suresh’s wife, Evelyn Chew, runs a well-oiled publicity process. She announces the celebrations by posting flyers into each letterbox. She later follows up with respective phone calls and arranges who’s bringing what.
Even old neighbours who have moved out still return for the yearly gathering. Evelyn would extend the invitation for them, keeping the love alive even if they have moved.
The parties gives residents a chance to interact beyond the small talk and the “hi bye” formalities.
We’ve got neighbours helping to prepare food, and collate names for registration. There’s also a couple just down the street that helps with the games – the husband puts in a lot of time to craft a piñata for the children, and the wife makes a beautiful jelly cake that commemorates how many years the Jalan Bintang Tiga street party has been going on for.
Facilitating and continuing on the kampung spirit is why residents consistently look forward to the yearly party, and that it has lasted for a good 20 years.
Suresh also reflects on fostering a friendly and welcoming neighbourhood:
In neighbourhoods that are not very friendly… you can just have a quarrel with your neighbours over parking spaces, for example, and not feel anything because there’s no love lost.
But if you’ve built strong friendships with your neighbours, you won’t have issues when someone parks outside your house or celebrates a wedding or festive occasion. You’re willing to let them take your space, and you have no qualms handing your keys to your neighbours for safekeeping when you’re on holiday because you trust them.
The 20th anniversary of the celebrations was extra special as Jalan Bintang Tiga would be recognised as Singapore’s first “Friendly Street”.
The event usually ends off with an exciting water bomb session, planned by Suresh’s and Evelyn’s adult children.
If anybody sends over their maid to help, we’ll say, ‘No, get the kids to clean up’.
Suresh also reflects, back during the 16th anniversary of party celebrations:
Are we really the only street that does this? I hope not! We don’t have to wait for someone else to build this neighbourhood spirit for us – we can do it ourselves! I hope many more will do so.
Go beyond the small talk today.
Despite festivities being held at Jalan Bintang Tiga, other neighbourhoods can take inspiration from the friendly neighbourhood and foster their own communities with our newfound Kampung spirit!