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 firstname.lastname@example.org