How many neighbours does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: not as many as you might think. How many people are needed to create change in a community? When a neighbourhood or city is facing a challenge, what percentage of people can transform and reshape a conversation for the better?
Consider for example if a neighbourhood wanted to rally together to build a new playground, deal with crime, push for a new policy, or create a more welcoming city. Would we need most people to join the movement? Just a few?
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have been working to answer this question and they discovered that if about 25% of people in a community worked together to bring about a change, they would have what it takes to change opinions and practices.
I’ve found this to be true here in Chestermere. A handful of teachers and kids helped change attitudes about bees. A young man and his friends helped make improvements to the skateboard park. A small group of people started a church community. Just a few people redeveloped a youth program. A few dozen people make amazing block parties happen. The list goes on. So many of the exciting community projects that make our city thrive are often started and sustained by a few people with big passion.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote along similar lines, “Look at the world around you. It may see like and immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push in just the right place, it can be tipped.” You and a few of your neighbours have the power to change Chestermere, to influence the conversation, to start and sustain meaningful social change that has the potential to make a big difference in your life, in the lives of others, and for the wellbeing of your whole community.
The question is, what movement is already starting in your neighbourhood? What good changes are brewing where you live, among your neighbours? We often discover the hopes and dreams of others when we sit and listen, dream, and ask good questions together.
Knowing that it might not take the whole community to make a community better should give us hope. It takes just a few people to begin. May you discover the places and people, your allies, who can work together with you to make vital changes to your neighbourhood and city. May you discover the joy of caring for your place and calling out the best in others. Your neighbourhood is worth the effort, and rallying together for a better community is a hopeful cause. We love our city, and together we can move it forward.