Campus block party to introduce students to local businesses

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Northern Star file photo

The MLK Commons on the campus of NIU in DeKalb.

Northern Star Staff

 DeKALB — The annual Campus Meets Community block party will return from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Martin Luther King Commons, if weather permits. In the case of rain, it will be held in the Duke Ellington Ballroom.

The block party is free and open to all students, faculty and staff. The DeKalb County Health Department will be at the event to answer questions and provide free COVID-19 vaccinations. 

The event is a way for local businesses and nonprofits to welcome the NIU community back to campus and introduce students to what DeKalb has to offer, said Jennifer Groce, director of community promotion, in a news release on Aug. 27. 

“The block party began four years ago, when local organizations reached out to the university and wanted a way to welcome the NIU community to DeKalb,” Groce said. “The block party is a really fun atmosphere, with music, vendors and free food samples. ”

There will be free food samples from Barb City Bagels, the Lincoln Inn, Burritoville, Meijer, Jimmy John’s and other local grocery stores and restaurants. The staff from Fargo’s Skate Shop and Mortenson from the Mortenson Innovation Alley will be there as well to tell students more about their businesses.

“This is a wonderful chance for both students and faculty to connect with local businesses as well as nonprofits in the area, including Tails Humane Society, Youth Service Bureau and the Egyptian Theatre,” Groce said. “Maybe they’d like to partner with a local business or nonprofit for a class project, find a place to volunteer or find services that they’d like to use.”

The DeKalb Belonging Council and WNIJ public radio station will provide a moving exhibit of portraits on local buses during the block party as well. The Belong Initiative began in October and aims to have diversity dialogues and create works of art, such as the Faces of Belonging moving exhibit to be featured at the block party. The initiative started when john a. powell, internationally recognized expert in civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty and democracy, partnered with NIU and nonprofits to create the Belonging Council.

The College of Visual and Performing Arts will take photographs, and WNIJ will conduct audio interviews for the pop-up Belonging exhibit during the event.