Abundant Communities Equal Abundant Relationships

The weather outside is unusually warm for this time of year, the sun often shines, and people are out enjoying that weather. Being with Abundant Communities means that it creates great opportunities for building relationships in the neighbourhood. I love meeting new people, getting to know what makes them tick, what they care about, and then helping them meet people who are like-minded. Then, once they’ve met, maybe we can get something started – something to improve the neighbourhood, whether it’s people coming together and saying they want to be part of creating a community garden, having a dog walking group, organizing a block party, or getting involved in local politics. But these groups don’t happen overnight. Sometimes it takes a common link to get people connected, to create introductions, and enable them to build new relationships. For the Boyle Street neighbourhood, I am one of those people – a neighbourhood connector.

In the past I’ve lived in different cities and neighbourhoods, all with their own sets of challenges, and all wanting to press forward for a happier, healthier, safer neighbourhood. I’ve seen groups of people get together to tackle living in a food desert (locations where easy access to affordable and nutritious food is scarce, particularly for those without a vehicle), creating a volunteer run bicycle repair shop, opening a social-enterprise coffee shop, or just opening up a lot for gardening and meeting with neighbours. All of these opportunities created new relationships, but it all started with people who had a vision of how to make the neighbourhood better, and then put it into action by going out and meeting people.

In Boyle Street, we have a great canvas to work with. It’s largely a canvas that is waiting to be animated. Do we want a community garden? Let’s meet people and get it started! Do we want to make sure that we have a neighbourhood rink next winter? Let’s make it happen! Do we want opportunities to have coffee and to enjoy chatting with friends in the neighbourhood? Let’s organize some pop-up coffee times. But the key with all of this is that it’s not a one person deal. It takes many people to make a neighbourhood great. It takes many visions to make a neighbourhood well-rounded. It takes you, meeting those around you, and then deciding to take action. Want help with that? Let me know. Want to tackle it yourself? I’d love to hear what you’re doing.

Relationships are what builds a neighbourhood and at the end of the day, that means it’s down to you, me, and those around us to make great things happen.

_Maria Castle is the Neighbourhood Connector for the Abundant Community Initiative. She can be reached at boylestreettalk@gmail.com

More in this issue

Neighbourhood Views

  • Preparing to Glow – Final preparations are made to lanterns prior to GLOW on March 19 at the Boyle Street Plaza. A full photo spread from the lantern parade will be in the May issue of the paper. Paula E. Kirman

  • Rainbow of Roses – Fresh roses at Zocalo in February. Paula E. Kirman

  • iHuman’s Art on “The Line” at Refinery en Vogue – The work of young artists from the iHuman Youth Society was featured at the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Refinery en Vogue on March 19, which had a fashion and design theme. The exhibit, entitled “The Line,” was created by Micky Pop, Matthew Auger, Dan Roberto, Angel Morningstar, and Michael Black. Paula E. Kirman

  • Breaking the Ice – Tyler Butler performing at Studio 96 on March 13 as part of the show “Break the Ice.” The “friendraiser” for Heart of the City also included the band F&M. Christopher Leclair

  • Multicultural Mural – A mural inside the Edmonton Intercultural Centre (McCauley School) featuring some of the cultures represented in the neighbourhood. Paula E. Kirman

Volunteer With Us!

We are always looking for new writers and photographers, as well as ideas for future stories. We also regularly need block carriers to help with the delivery and distribution of the paper. Email Paula with your submissions, feedback, ideas, and availability. We also ask that contributors read our Editorial Guidelines and that all volunteers read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

Upcoming Themes

Our theme for April’s issue is “Freedom.” What does freedom mean to you? What are things you do in your life that make you feel free? How have you overcome obstacles to freedom in your life? Deadline: March 12. Articles should be no longer than 500 words and accompanied by photos whenever possible. Send your work to: editor@bmcnews.org.