Last Saturday, the town of Longmont held its annual summer parade. Like most parades across America, firefighters waved to the crowds from their firetrucks. What made Boulder's Firefighters Parade different was that it happened on Sunday, at BoulderGreenStreets.
When volunteer firefighters arrived with firetrucks from Fourmile, Sunshine, Gold Hill, SugarLoaf, Boulder Mountain, and High Country, Hillary Griffith, organizer of Boulder's first annual "Ciclovia" event, directed them off the street.
For a single day, a mile-long-stretch of downtown city streets would be closed to motor vehicles. And that included firetrucks.
On Sunday, volunteer firefighters from the Fourmile Fire, Colorado's most devastating fire, in which 169 homes were lost, marched face-to-face with the community that wanted to thank them in person, shake their hand, wave hello, or give them a hug.
The idea of the Firefighters Parade was only conceived 10 days ago. What made it possible was a single word: yes, given by Hillary Griffith. For most of a year, she worked to gain permission for the one-mile street closure, invited in local businesses that symbolized Boulder's healthy, creative community, and assembled 100 volunteers.
Ten days ago, when I came up with the idea of a Firefighters Parade, that yes made it happen. Like a viral firestorm, #Boulderfire's Laura Levy lit up Facebook and Twitter. For nearly a week, I accepted every idea that was offered. We ended up with a Samba Marching Band, Belly Dancers, Rock 'n Roll Choir, Boulder High Marching Band, Fourmileheros posters, Kids Art, kids on scooters, kids on bicycles, dogs on leash, and the Barefoot Violinist (also a fire evacuee).
If BoulderGreenStreets was able to close that stretch of Pearl Street each Sunday, think of the possibilities that could happen in that car-free play space.
The Firefighters' Parade in Boulder was only the first spark. What other creative, playful "in the street" ideas could turn up the heat of community, each Sunday, in our town? In your town?
In Bogota, Columbia, where the idea of Ciclovia first caught fire, 70 miles of city streets are turned over to more than 2 million citizens each Sunday for bicycling, jogging, roller skating, and strolling. It has become such an important part of community life, that, I'm told, it even took place each Sunday - 15 years ago - during the midst of that country's Civil War!
Alexia Parks is founder and director of Parkinomics, for the New Economy. She is also author of 8 books, including Parkinomics, an Amazon business and motivational bestseller. It offers 8 great ways to thrive in the New Economy, for the individual who wants to lead a life of "meaning, prosperity, and purpose." Parkinomics includes ideas and links to resources.