I’m a bit nervous as I knock on my neighbour’s door. I’ve lived here for five years so I’ve certainly seen them around, I think I even introduced myself, but have forgotten their names.

My community Association has asked if I would be the Block Connector for my block. This is my first day in the role, and I’m going to walk down our street, meet my neighbours and let them know what this involves. I like the idea of getting to know my neighbours in the same way we all did as kids.

“Hi my name is Rob, I’m your neighbour just down the street, I think we’ve met before? Anyway, the Community League/Neighbourhood leadership is doing this neighbouring initiative and have asked if I can be the Block Connector for our block. Do you have a minute so that I can tell you what they’ve asked me to do? Thanks.”

“First, they want me to be our block’s point person, so that we have a contact person in case of garage doors left open etc. and so that at least one of us knows what’s going on the neighbourhood and can pass that on to the others. You know, Christmas parties and what not.”

“Second, they have asked if I would initiate a block party or a “meet and greet” once or twice a year for our block. I was hoping to organize one for this month if possible.”

“Third, they want to know what your vision is for our neighbourhood and how you think we could make it a better place to live. They’re also interested in what activities or interests you have that you might want to join in with neighbours. We can put together some sports teams or a choir.

“Finally they would like to know what skills, gifts or experience you have that you’d be willing to offer to our neighbours or the neighbourhood.”

“The community association has created a database in which we input the answers we collect. It’s a neighbourhood inventory that we can use to connect and help each other out. So do you have time for me to ask these questions now or should I come back another time? Awesome, I can come back tomorrow. See you then. Nice to chat.”

And so it goes, the Block Connector embarking on an adventure, stitching the block together with the hope of stitching our block to the rest of the neighbourhood. We are a community of about a 1,000 homes, a nicely sized walkable neighbourhood. It’s reasonable to think we can form supportive connections. I’ve met some of the other Block Connectors. Our blocks consist of about 20 houses each, and there are roughly 50 blocks in total. A great group of like-minded neighbourhood builders.

Our community leadership has hired a Neighbourhood Connector using a provincial grant whose role is to organize the community. Her primary role is to identify and support us as Block Connectors. She also has the job of insuring that all of the visions, interests and gifts that our neighbours express are organized and utilized through the database.

I know from the data we already have, there is a youth group, a hockey team and a knitting club and that the number one activity people want to share together is walking. Number two is gardening. Both of these activities have government funds available for start-up. I have also learned that we are hoping to create a baseball team, a couple of bike-riding groups and running club this spring.

It is encouraging to hear about people being linked together from gift to need. From helping out in time of grief to having a calligrapher help with a banner. Talented neighbours have so much to offer each other. I have also read that the leadership of the neighbourhood was surprised to hear that so many neighbours care about the fact that we have so little neighbourhood retail and that the highest value we neighbours have is neighbourliness.

We have been at this Abundant Community program for about a year and it is already making a difference in the way we live. I can only imagine what it will be like as our kids begin to expect a connected neighbourhood with neighbours sharing interests, being active together in recreation and sharing our gifts with one another.

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