Community leaders of revitalization Stepping up to make your neighbourhood better

Hundreds of people have given their time to share their vision for and frustration with their neighbourhood over the years. Some of them took it further and joined a committee or worked on a project. Many residents sitting at community meetings today are the same as 11 years ago when the Avenue Initiative Revitalization started. That speaks of the commitment those residents have to making their community a better place to live, work, and play.

Numerous people gave their time and passion to the community well before the Avenue Initiative and many will continue to do so long after this initiative fades into the past. Communities go through their ups and downs, but someone always seems to step up and lead a charge they are passionate about.

“Thank you to all the people who have stepped forward over the years to set in motion an idea or project, share your passion, or just being willing to do anything that needed doing,” said Judy Allan, Avenue Initiative Coordinator.

It doesn’t matter whether what you did was short term or long term, on your block or for the community-at-large. What you did was an act of leadership, which is what makes our Alberta Avenue area neighbourhoods great.

Community leaders most often are not elected—they are self-appointed by their own actions. They don’t necessarily possess special skills; they learn by trial and error. Ultimately, most want to build a safer, more vibrant community.

Leading can energize you, help you grow, develop new skills, build your social network and help you get to know your community and neighbours. It can also be frustrating, time-consuming and draining. Individual circumstances, available time, interests, and passions change over time, so the only constant about community leadership is that it is always changing.

Seven community leagues, numerous organizations, annual festivals, weekly programs, committees, networking groups, community building projects, and more provide an abundance of opportunities to meet others and get involved.

Each meeting or event that residents attend is a success, even if they do not make a concrete commitment for further involvement.

“Informal bridges and connections are just as important as the formal,” said Christy Morin, who Executive Director of Arts on the Ave. She says the community is less isolated than it once was; people want to work collectively and collaboratively.

The Alberta Avenue district is becoming known not only for its festivals and events but also for its opportunities for community involvement.

“When my husband and I were looking to purchase a home and set down permanent roots in Edmonton, it was important to us both to find a neighbourhood with a deep sense of community,” shared Jessica MacQueen. “We wanted to live somewhere with a pulse, somewhere we could get involved, know our neighbours, and feel connected. Alberta Avenue really feels like the right place for us.”

I leave you with advice from Jason Roberts, founder of BetterBlock.org who was in Edmonton last May giving a motivational talk. His “let’s just do it” attitude led to many successful neighbourhood projects and has now become an international movement.  Roberts shares three steps to making things happen: show up and be present, give the project/activity a name, and set a date and publish it even before the details are all worked out. This forces you to commit and do it.

Do something—anything—to make your block, your community a better place.

Header image: Community leaders enjoying a well deserved summer BBQ in 2016. | Judy Allan

Karen Mykietka

Karen Mykietka

A busy woman of many jobs, Karen spends too much time in front of a computer. In the past 20 years, she has lived in Eastwood, Alberta Avenue, and now Parkdale, meeting awesome people everywhere she goes.
Karen Mykietka

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