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South Salt Lake Journal

SSL promotes neighborhood cohesion with grant program

Apr 12, 2024 01:13PM ● By Peri Kinder

Neighbors of South Salt Lake City resident Arthur Debowski attend a live music concert in his backyard in 2023. Using grant money from SSL, Debowski held a block party to bring people together. (Photo courtesy of Arthur Debowski)

In a time where people interact through digital screens, and often don’t know their neighbors, the City of South Salt Lake devised a way to foster community engagement. The Neighborhood Block Party Grant is available again after it debuted last year in the city. 

Residents are encouraged to create opportunities to build relationships, engage in fun activities and develop bonds in their neighborhoods. 

“It was very successful last year and we were super happy with how it turned out,” said Joseph Dane, SSL public outreach coordinator. “It’s bringing neighborhoods and neighbors together to build community because when we have strong neighborhoods we have a strong community that looks out for each other.”

This year’s grant program will award five grants at $500 each to residents in the city who would like to host an event like a potluck barbecue, dance party or any other get-together that creates connection. Last year’s events included a summer gala and a Halloween party. 

SSL resident Arthur Debowski held a music concert in his backyard last year, using the city’s grant to rent portable toilets. With more than 50 people in attendance, he wanted to ensure everyone had access to clean facilities. Debowski said the concert was a success and hopes to apply for another grant for an event this fall. 

“There are very few places in our society where you can get together with people and you’re not expected to spend money,” Debowski said. “It’s something we lack in this country, community events that are open to all and you’re just there to hang out with your friends and neighbors.”

SSL’s Neighborhood Block Party Grant application is open through June 30 and events must take place by Oct. 31. The $500 can be used toward items like food, door prizes and entertainment, but cannot be used for the purchase of alcohol, tent or stage rental, or permanent play equipment. Event hosts must apply for a special event permit at least two weeks before the event if approved.

Hosts can also request the city’s firefighters, police officers, mayor or councilmembers to be in attendance. For more information, visit

“This is definitely geared more toward neighbors coming together, creating relationships and forming bonds,” Dane said. “We have a lot of new residents coming into South Salt Lake with younger people moving in as older people are moving out, or whatever the case might be. There’s an ever-changing flux in our city here. So it’s great to have this opportunity where new neighbors and older neighbors come together in this way.”

Debowski hopes as block parties gain momentum in the city, people will be more willing to leave the comfort of their homes and interact with the people around them. He grew up on the East Coast in an area that had lots of walkable events and community gatherings, so he hopes it catches on in SSL.

“It’s relatively common in Europe and my theory is that in America we’ve structured our societies where everybody’s got a relatively large house and you’ve taken community elements and put them in your own house, so you don’t have to leave or spend time with other people. It’s like a personal kingdom,” Debowski said. “But adding things like concerts or having movies in our yard gets people out of their houses to come together.” λ