Local writer, Dr. Preston Pouteaux, is excited for the release of his second book, “The Neighbours are Real and Other Beautiful Things.”
“I’m passionate about neighbourhoods, and specifically about Chestermere and the health of our neighbourhoods,” Pouteaux said.
“So many of the groupings we take for granted are rooted in our place, the people we know, and how we trust each other. It’s an uncelebrated wonderful part of being human, and being in community is having a great neighbourhood,” he said.
Pouteaux’s passion for neighbourhoods began a long time ago, but writing a weekly column, “Into the neighbourhood,” opened his eyes to the depth and beauty of neighbourhoods.
“I’ve learned so many great stories from people who have connected with their neighbours and have grown deeper roots in their place,” Pouteaux said.
Pouteaux wrote his first book, “The Bees of Rainbow Falls, Finding Faith, Imagination and Delight in your Neighbourhood” in 2017.
“It was my first time writing something longer than my normal articles. That book was just so much fun to write, it turned into so many other wonderful things,” Pouteaux said.
“I thought that would be the only book that I would write until a couple of years ago I started to realize I had more to say and more to contribute to this great conversation,” he said.
Adding, “To me, what seems like ordinary day-to-day things in Chestermere has been very meaningful to people in other parts of the world.”
Pouteaux began to take his weekly articles that readers had responded to the most, that he received a lot of positive feedback on, or that he felt struck a chord in a positive way, and began to rewrite them, reshape them, organize them, and add additional content to create a full book.
“This book is for people who are just getting their toes wet in their neighbourhood, thinking of helpful language, helpful imagery, and ideas to take them to the next step into being a connected neighbour,” Pouteaux said.
“It was really written with the intent for people to dip their toe in, they don’t have to read it from front to back. They can sit on their front porch in a rocking chair and read a few pages. Hopefully, it’s inspiring and encouraging and something that they would also want to share with their neighbours,” he said.
Writing is a common part of Pouteaux’s everyday life, however, getting the project edited, and completing the layout and design work was all new to him.
“I was excited to be more a part of putting the project together this time,” Pouteaux said.
For Pouteaux the most significant challenge while creating this project was keeping perspective.
“Sometimes you think that your story is very ordinary, and so you don’t think that anything your writing is inspiring, because it’s just your ordinary life and your ordinary experience of it. I’ve learned over time that by shining a light on ordinary things you can see it through a new lens and realize that the ordinary stuff of life is actually the really good stuff of life,” Pouteaux said.
“To tell myself that Chestermere is ordinary, but through the right lens it’s extortionary, the way we build relationships with each other and make a life here,” he said.
Pouteaux is hopeful that “The Neighbours are Real and Other Beautiful Things,” will broaden readers’ imaginations into what the good life is about.
“We can buy and purchase and consume a lot of things that we think will make our lives happier, but you can’t buy, or purchase your neighbours. You have to nurture it, you have to nurture relationships and that takes time, and energy,” Pouteaux said.
“I want people to take away, that like gardening, gardeners take time to nurture the soil and care for the garden, and eventually the get to enjoy the fruits of nurturing it. You might not enjoy your neighbours on day one, and you might not find it meaningful on day one to care for your neighbours, but if you nurture your neighbourhood and the people around you, over the long haul then you get to enjoy the fruit of those relationships,” he added. “That’s love, joy, peace, and patience, and all these wonderful things suddenly sprout up around you and you wake up one day and you realize you don’t just tolerate your neighbours, you actually love them and you like them, and you want them to be a part of your life.”
All of the funds raised through “The Neighbours are Real and Other Beautiful Things” will be invested back into neighbourhood projects within Chestermere, through the Plesion Studio initiative.
“All the funds from the books and projects always go back into making beautiful things for our city,” Pouteaux said.
“We started Plesion Studio all in the hope of creating resources and creating art projects to help people see and love their neighbours. We’ve done the sounds of Chestermere, we’ve done art, now we’re creating books, and we hope to continue making all sorts of creative wonders that I hope will help people see that our neighbourhoods and Chestermere are a fantastic place,” he said.
“The Neighbours are Real and Other Beautiful Things” is now available on Amazon, at
https://amzn.to/3mV7Uup and became a best seller in its category, and the number one hot new release.
“I’m grateful to be able to write for my city, and I think it’s important to have people who are writing and reflecting on our community,” Pouteaux said.