Growing Community Together
June 24, 2020Hannah VlaarComments 0
COVID has changed every aspect of how we engage with each other. It has upended our social lives, workplaces, and personal interactions. This new reality has also shown that in times of need, communities come together and support each other.
At CCOC, we are always thinking about the communities we live in and serve. When the pandemic hit, we created posters inviting neighbours to offer help to their neighbours in need. We learned quickly that a poster is too impersonal. We always need personal connections, especially when we feel vulnerable. We also saw the actions tenants were taking on their own in their buildings: personal notes of encouragement and solidarity, along with food sharing and offers of help.
Inspired, we created the Neighbours Network. In the weekly CCOC email, we invited tenants from all properties to join an online call. We wanted to hear how we could support connections among neighbours during the pandemic, and beyond.
The response has been amazing. Over 15 people showed up to the first meeting. We spent over an hour sharing ideas about building community. We discussed getting services to our most vulnerable community members, providing activities for kids, sharing other community resources, and calling seniors. The openness and willingness to help was incredible, and it was telling—people want to support those around them.
Since then, the group has identified two main points of focus: the structure of the Neighbours Network itself, and the on-the-ground events and actions. The structure group is thinking through how to keep neighbours connected and share solutions to common problems. The events group is planning a balcony celebration for Canada Day, as well as working on a couple of projects to share moments of joy.
The network is overflowing with ideas and this is just the beginning! Will neighbours exchange goods for services, like in a barter economy? Will they host stuff swaps, create free stores, and the like? Will food pantries pop up for tenants to drop off food to share with their neighbours? The possibilities are endless!
In all of this, CCOC plays a role but doesn’t direct the work. We support these connections, but do not want to be too “in the way” of the dynamic energy in the communities themselves. The tenants participating in the Neighbours Network will shape CCOC’s role and involvement.
We know many people have been engaging and organizing in their communities for a long time. It’s this creative energy neighbours are bringing to their communities, to help their neighbours, that makes this work exciting, and hopefully, transformative.
Are you a neighbour who wants to get involved? Click here and let us know!