Cultivating Community

Jim Diers visits a local projectWhen community leaders get together there is electricity in the air, and so it was a the Cultivating Communities Workshop, where Jim Diers lead a workshop on getting people engaged, tapping the neighbourhood resources, using the tools and creating outcomes.

Place matters. Community is about people and their social connections. In nurturing two new community leagues in my ward it has been obvious that place-based communities are the most vibrant. Local park building and revitalization has proven to reinforce connectivity, improve neighbour relations, decrease crime and create a higher quality of life. Gilmore Park Community League activities have changed a previously disconnected group and families into a close knit community. Brittany Lane Co-op continues to grow opportunities for youth activities and interaction with adjacent neighbours.

Try as they might, bureaucracies cannot be as effective as individuals in emergency preparedness, disaster response and advancing social justice. However, governments can facilitate by empowering citizens in their own neighbourhoods and increasing citizen representation on Advisory Committees. Many municipalities are now providing matching funding to neighbourhoods to leverage the power of community. The results are amazing. The Ward 2 Building Strong Communities piloted that model by creating criteria based on transparency and accountability, proving that there are more effective ways to utilize priority funds that strengthen local neighbourhood projects.

The Jim Diers workshop on Cultivating Communities sowed the seeds for some magnificent projects to look for in the future; including utilization and beautification of utility corridors, bathroom and water conservation projects in parks, and safer streets initiatives. It looks like this winter will be a busy one for neighbourhood champions! 

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