How the little things create a community Making the choice to be neighbourly brings people together

JANIS IRWIN

In mid-July, I moved about 20 blocks west from the Highlands-Bellevue area into the Parkdale neighbourhood. From the moment I arrived, I was welcomed. Within minutes, my neighbour from across the street brought a bottle of wine; another a few houses down brought his baby (the wine was to keep, while the baby was not). And throughout my first day in my new neighbourhood, I met and chatted with many of my new neighbours.

My sisters were in town to help me move. One, from Calgary, remarked that she’d lived in her house for three years, yet she still didn’t really know any of her neighbours. It was incredible to her that I’d been living in mine for mere hours and had not only met new neighbours, but had also made new friends.

Of course, a move is often not without its challenges, but even then, we can find positives. For example, the previous owners had left bags of trash and recycling in the alley for pickup later in the week. I woke up that Monday to discover all of the bags had been ripped apart, creating a huge mess. I was quite disheartened, and I did what I could that morning, but I needed to get to work. I knew that it would be a task that I’d have to tackle when I got home later in the day. I was astonished when I came home to see that the bags had all been re-bagged, and all the trash cleaned up. I learned later that my next-door neighbour had quietly done the clean up.

It’s these little things—saying hello to a neighbour, volunteering at a community event, or picking up trash—that make a neighbourhood a community. These seemingly minor actions strengthen the social fabric of our neighbourhoods and bring us closer together.

We encounter opportunities daily in which we can support neighbourliness. I’ve seen how in making the choice to be open, inclusive, and kind, we build relationships and improve the health of our communities, and in turn, we reduce fear and social isolation too.

Featured Image: New Parkdale resident Janis Irwin discovered she has wonderful neighbours.| Supplied

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