One of the great things about Memorial Day and the events it brings to town — the pancake breakfast, parade, and remembrance ceremony — is that it offers people an opportunity to mingle and spend time with friends and acquaintances in town. On Monday, one man was heard saying with a sigh, “There’s nobody here I know.” Until a woman nearby piped up and said, “You know me!” Then she commented to a third person, “We’re neighbors.”

It used to be everyone knew at least some of their neighbors. Before cell phones and social media — and especially if people lived closer together — they would see each other in their yards, on their porches, or out for an evening walk. Passing the time of day was often done face to face — make that in person — not electronically. There are still opportunities to run into people you know, whether at school events, the Wilton Library or the Village Market.

But many factors have also made us more isolated. Not as many people work in or close to town, so commutes are longer. Two-acre zoning spreads us out. Sometimes it feels as if we spend a good chunk of our lives in our cars. And, of course, there are the ubiquitous cell phones that divert so much of our attention. We suffer so much fear of missing out that we miss what’s just beyond that glowing rectangle. Add in a pair of earbuds and we’re practically unreachable. Kids play indoors so much their outdoor time is often scheduled as camp or sports teams.

That’s why the Wilton Youth Council’s effort to promote block parties is such a good idea. We all need unstructured human contact, and this is an easy way to at least put a name to a face we might see on a regular basis. Kids might find new playmates, adults might find someone with a shared interest.

The council has a Free Play Task Force that encourages children to get out and play without adult involvement. A block party is a way for adults to “play,” too, with minimal structure.

The theme is “building community one block at a time.” Building community also means building support, building friendships, building a sense of belonging.

Don’t be afraid to reach out. If you already know someone on your street, buddy up to plan a simple event like a picnic, a potluck, maybe some lawn games. No bouncy castles needed!