FINALIST: North Evergreen Street in Burbank, CA

"A local sustainable neighborhood in the heart of the media capital of the world"

Named a Finalist Because: Located in the heart of a major metropolis, this neighborhood exemplifies the small-town values seen in nice places everywhere across America.

From the Editors: In a region where new versions of “reality” are manufactured every day, this San Fernando Valley street lined with small suburban homes is as real as it gets, with a community spirit worthy of any feel-good movie made in the studios strung across Los Angeles.

When you get home you might find a bag of freshly picked limes hanging from your doorknob or a dozen eggs from the backyard coop next door. When one woman decided to redo her front yard, the local recycling center held a mulching and composting workshop—then everybody pitched in and helped. Folks wave when you pass by. It’s hundreds of neighborly acts like these, both large and small, that make the street exceptional to its residents and the judges—especially in a region of millions, where, when you step outside this little haven, nobody knows your name unless it’s in lights.

A neighborhood group on Facebook reads like that of 200-person extended family. They post everything from free jalapeños to give away to a stray pig sighting (true story!). In her nomination, Ashley Erikson told us, “One time I was very sick and out of coffee. I posted on the neighborhood page and within minutes three neighbors had walked over coffee for me.”

Recently, Jon O. posted that he was firing up his outdoor pizza oven and invited folks to come on over. Dilhara F. shared a plea on behalf of some friends who had unexpectedly found themselves as the foster parents to two infants: They didn’t have a stroller, or baby clothes, blankets, or toys. Did anybody have baby things to spare? Within a day, Dilhara’s car was jam-packed with everything the new parents might need.

For birthdays and holidays, residents come together for huge block parties. Every Thursday a group of moms hop on their bikes and pedal to the bowling alley or the roller rink, or maybe to someone’s house for a game night. On the first Tuesday of August—National Night Out—residents come together with the local police in a dizzying series of events. “We have food trucks, balloon twisting, face painting, limbo, hula hoop contests, a watermelon-eating contest, dancing, and local police and fire come out for the kids. It’s a great way to meet more neighbors and just come together as a neighborhood,” Erikson wrote in her nomination.

For resident Amruta S., this street is her dream come true. As she puts it, “I want my son to know what a village feels like.”

— The Editors

Neighbors work together to mulch one yard on the block. (Credit: Ashley Erikson)

When I moved to North Evergreen Street from another part of Burbank, I had no idea what I was about to come into and how it was about to grow. I have always lived in neighborhoods where you barely knew your neighbor’s name or gave a wave hello until I came to North Evergreen four years ago. The street and its surrounding blocks have their own Facebook group called the Neighbors of North Evergreen. In this group, over 200 people who live within a few blocks of each other perform acts of kindness on a daily basis. We don’t just wave to each other, we take the time to chat and ask about each other’s day. Burbank is a huge city, home to Disney, Nickelodeon, WB, ABC, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, and more, but somehow there is this quiet little space.

Stories About North Evergreen St.

Just last week a neighbor decided to redo her front yard. The local recycling center came out and did a workshop with our neighbors about mulch and compost, and we all pitched in to help redo her front yard as a group. Another neighbor made homemade pizza in their outdoor pizza oven to feed us all. A lot of our neighbors grow their own fruits and vegetables or raise chickens for the eggs. Sometimes I will come home to a bag of key limes on my porch, or a dozen eggs to say thank you for housesitting their pets while they were on vacation. There’s even a food swap every month for those who grow or make things.

We create events for the kids during the holidays. For Christmas and Halloween, we all meet up at the local park two blocks over and host different craft tables for the kids. We bring snacks, have a photo op area, and the kids make fun gifts like ornaments and snow globes. One Halloween we learned that one of the little girls on the street had never gone trick-or-treating due to her many food allergies. The neighborhood banded together and got a list of over 20 safe houses for her to trick-or-treat that would have non-food items for her.

Kids enjoy Halloween crafts and games at a neighborhood gathering in the park. (Credit: Ashley Erikson)

Myself and another girl in the neighborhood work with animals, so we receive a lot of phone calls from neighbors about fallen baby squirrels and opossums. We never hesitate to come to the house and help the crittesrs get to a local rehabber. Moms in the neighborhood started a bike group on Thursday evenings. We ride to different places like a local bar or restaurant, bowling, roller skating, or line dancing — though sometimes we’d rather stay in for a game night or themed dress-up party.

One time I was very sick and out of coffee, so I posted in the neighborhood page. Within minutes, three neighbors walked coffee over for me.

Burbank’s 2017 Mayor and Vice Mayor drop it low for the limbo on National Night Out. (Credit: Ashley Erikson)
Burbank firefighters pay a visit to the kids on North Evergreen Street. (Credit: Ashley Erikson)

Every year we put on our own National Night Out event on the first Tuesday of August. We have food trucks, balloon twisting, face painting, limbo, hula hoop contests, watermelon eating contests, dancing, and local police and fire departments who come out for the kids. It’s a great way to meet more neighbors and just come together as a neighborhood.

Watermelon eating contest. (Credit: Ashley Erikson)
Fire truck photo op for neighborhood kids. (Credit: Ashley Erikson)

In our Facebook group, a lot of people give away things for free, recommend services, and offer support. A lot of my neighbors know I craft a lot with my kids, so I will often find bags of salvaged household craft supplies on my porch.

During our local election, a few of us hosted the people running for council and asked them questions. We created a website with their answers so that our whole neighborhood could know more about the people they’d be voting for. Sometimes a neighbor will post that they are making dinner and invite people over. We’ll stop in for homemade food and drinks while the kids play. It’s such a fun sense of family and community in the area.

Neighborhoods kids get their groove on at a dance party in the park. (Credit: Ashley Erikson)

A neighborhood dad fought at the city council meetings and other city meetings for months to get a four-way stop sign by our street so that we could cross safely. He won!