By nature, humans are social creatures and crave interaction, and social media is evidence of another way we can connect.
Although the pandemic is responsible for fewer in-person community events, online communities on social media continue to grow in popularity and membership. Members may not know each other initially, but have the opportunity to connect with like-minded people and those with similar experiences. People mostly join these groups to meet new people in the neighbourhood, discover places of interest, and promote or sell their services. To join, prospective members may need to answer a few questions first.
As an added feature, the Facebook app offers Facebook Neighborhoods, a new section to help people connect with their neighbours.
“I am a trainee barber and I was looking for volunteers on Neighborhoods to have their hair cut free of charge,” says Samir Ghani, residing in Eastwood. “I was initially skeptical, but the response was overwhelming. I was literally styling hair the whole day,” he laughs.
Yuliya Kaminsky, a newcomer living in Cromdale, found her first friends via Neighborhoods. “I was only looking for someone to walk with in the nearby parks. I posted my interest and a few ladies messaged me. When we met, we discovered we also share other common interests, such as arts and knitting.”
Nextdoor is another application that aims to promote community building. Through recommendations for local eateries, Achint Malhotra, a student in Parkdale, discovered a new restaurant near his home that ended up being his favourite. The app also helped Angela Groves, another Parkdale resident, to promote her bird sitting and dog walking services during the summer and she earned much-needed extra money.
When neighbours connect with one another, their local social and recreational opportunities increase.
“It is truly something to look forward to when the pandemic situation ends,” says Kaminsky, who discovered events such as the Kinnart Ravine Mural Project and Jurassic Festival near Cromdale through the Parkdale Cromdale Community League Group on Facebook.
Other reasons to join online groups include seeking recommendations for services, promoting local businesses, posting pictures of lost and found pets, or reporting a burglary or theft.
“Reporting thefts is really helpful,” says Sherryz Dhaliwal, a mother of two living in Alberta Avenue. “This way, residents can exercise extra caution and be on alert.”
Rebecca Lippiatt, a photographer and writer, sought local residents to submit stories for her Edmonton in the Time of COVID project (yegcovidstories.com) on the 118 Ave Femmes and Friends group on Facebook. Recently, this group has also been reporting fire incidents in the area.
Residents also feel supported, safer, less isolated, and happier in their neighbourhood. The online group has also been promoting initiatives like Green Alleys and Coffee with Cops that educate residents on how to report suspicious activity, and fostering a sense of safety in the neighbourhood.
Like with any other virtual platform, be careful what you share. Not everyone you meet is genuine. Ensure you don’t reveal too much personal information when you are meeting or messaging someone for the first time.
LOCAL ONLINE COMMUNITIES
Nextdoor app: ca.nextdoor.com
Facebook Neighbourhoods info:
League Facebook pages: search your league name
Local Facebook groups:
118 Ave Femmes & Friends: facebook.com/groups/264398370643849
Neighbors in Alberta Avenue – Parkdale – Cromdale: facebook.com/groups/942796005808718
Parkdale Cromdale Community League group: facebook.com/groups/pcclyeg/
Friends of The Kinnaird Ravine: facebook.com/groups/257889723765/
Eat the Avenue!: facebook.com/groups/405190486933594/
Alberta Avenue Housing Collective: facebook.com/groups/761423110943428/
Alberta Avenue Cycle Nights: facebook.com/groups/269422043818071/
Alberta Ave district Safe Streets Working Group: facebook.com/groups/1127958197650190/
C.R.U.D. Community Response to Urban Disorder: facebook.com/groups/98109265527/
Neighbourhood Facebook pages:
Alberta Avenue: facebook.com/pages/Alberta%20Avenue/137782779577362/
Elmwood Park: facebook.com/pages/Elmwood/139511116076824/
Spruce Avenue: facebook.com/pages/Spruce%20Avenue/102620063130229/