We have everything we need to build something amazing here in Chestermere. You were born with curiosity and the ability to create, to mend, to nurture, and to envision new ways of doing things in your community. Loving our neighbourhoods is not for the experts, but for regular people like you and me. We do not need a degree or a full bank account, you are enough; and if you do have more, sharing what you have gives meaning and purpose. To thrive, we need time, patience, love, and a bit of courage to be present in our community. This is do-able now, and where you live.
I was recently in a meeting and nearly everyone around the table introducing themselves said that they were so excited for spring; to be outside, to garden, or to go for walks again. With the arrival of warmer weather perhaps you, too, are eager to be outside and to make and create something special where you live. Here are eight ideas to help you think about the small (and maybe not-so-small) ways that you can build something special in your community this season.
• Plant something. Gardens get us outside to do something that makes us feel better. When we have a garden, it calls us out throughout the year to water, tend, enjoy, and even harvest something tasty. Few things feel as nourishing for the soul as walking through your garden on a warm summer evening.
• Give something away. Generosity, especially between neighbours, is a foundational building block in a community. Tools, food, plants, help, a bowl of water for dogs, lemonade, a baby stroller, a book, a trampoline; there are so many things you have that could make the life of your neighbour better. Give it away, you’ll find that the sharing is not painful, but life-giving.
• Do a barn-raising. We may not have real barns to build, but we might have a neighbour with a big project on their hands. Gather people together, make a plan, and help your neighbour get a big job done in a short amount of time.
• Write it down. Neighbours are simply strangers who stop being strangers to each others. Gathering and writing down contact information between neighbours is a helpful way to build connections. In our neighbourhood we have been building a little directory. We have a long way to go, but in time we hope to build better ways for us to phone or email each other in an emergency or just to connect for coffee.
• Live outside. We only get a few warm months a year in Alberta, make plans now to spend time outside. Set up some outdoor furniture and some shade, move a picnic table to the front yard, whatever helps you enjoy your space. A hospitable outdoor space is a great way to naturally connect with those who stop by; loving where you live matters.
• Throw a party. Block parties are easy to organize in Chestermere. Head down to city hall and ask for a block party kit. You’ll find it has everything you need to have a great gathering. Plan now and let your neighbours know what you’re up to, chances are that they’ll be happy to help!
• Plan a field trip. My sister and her neighbours plan an annual camping trip. For a few days every summer they pack up camper trailers and tents and head out, together, for a camping adventure. If a camping trip is too big, make plans to take a day-trip with your neighbours to the mountains, the zoo, or for a local hike.
• Own something together. I heard of a neighbourhood that bought a shared pizza oven and mounted it on a small trailer. Once a week they all get together and make pizzas. Delicious.
Our neighbourhoods can be places where we can experience joy, hope, and new connections together. How will you get out and build something special where you live?