A community yard sale with a twist brings a neighborhood together

A unique community yard sale in the Penn/Knox neighborhood tomorrow is set to become the first block party the neighborhood has held in many years. 

Germantown is known for some pretty cool blocks and Penn/Knox, centered at the corner of – you guessed it, Penn and Knox streets, is fairly well known among them.  

You can see it in the quaint collection of well maintained homes that range from Federalist style to Victorian, which thrive like an enclave despite some nearby troubles with crime. You can see it in the nearly legendary history of the Penn/Knox neighbors association, which among other things, fought hard against institutional expansion into residential neighborhoods for decades.

And Saturday you’ll be able to see it in the yard sale, turned block party.  

“It’s a gathering of the community,” said Andrew Biront.

He has lived on the block since 1973 and says it’s pretty much always been a tight neighborhood – especially when there is something negative to organize against.

But something a little new has been happening there in recent years, he said. Neighbors have been starting to get together just for the fun of it.

A recent catalyst has been a community garden on the lot of the “Red Gables” house – the neighborhood’s unofficial center. Residents have started tending it together this year.

“Now it’s like a hub,” said Dana Scherer. “Because we go there and work the ground and get together and talk.”

Scherer is a mother of four who fell in love with the neighborhood with her husband Jon when they moved there in 1996.

The yard sale was her idea and, according to Biront, people have really been getting behind it. He credits Scherer’s can-do spirit as being the main thing to bring people together, but Scherer is more modest.

“I don’t think I am the organizer,” she said. “I think I’m more like the instigator.”

What she has instigated is a yard sale that will go from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and feature child-run ventures like a limeade, popcorn and hand-made rubber band gun stand operated by a neighboring family, a fruit kabob and lemonade stand run by the Scherer family itself, and more adult ventures like stalls devoted to antiques, architectural salvage, and an art sale from the nearby Greene Street Artists Co-op.

Then, when the yard sale is done, the roads will close and neighbors will come together again over fun and food. Among the attractions, Biront’s mother will make cookies, there will be music and an outdoor community movie.

Biront sees it as a new idea that matches what the neighborhood is really all about.

“The most important thing about Penn/Knox is the community of neighbors,” said Biront.

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