I moved to the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood in 2006. I didn’t move here to be its savior. I moved here because I could afford it. The neighbourhood wasn’t even on my radar initially, but my then boyfriend (now husband) suggested I look here as he had previously lived in the area. My realtor said she wasn’t willing to show a single woman houses in this area so I got a new realtor and a new house. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome! I love living here!

I have made friends of neighbours, ranging from young professionals who just moved here to seniors who have lived here for over 60 years. They have all become important to my husband and I. And I have seen amazing changes, small and large, occur in the decade we’ve lived here.

I am not an overly involved person. I don’t volunteer at our neighbourhood festivals or at The Carrot and I feel intimidated when I’m in large groups of unfamiliar people. But I love connecting with people.

I am awed by the amount of large scale effort being put into our neighbourhood and the people doing this work. What I can and want to contribute comes on a smaller scale. This doesn’t make me less important to the efforts of the neighbourhood revitalization. This may even be the next step to ensure the large efforts, such as our festivals, actually create lasting change. Regular people like you and me can do these small things.

Over the past few years, my neighbour and I have organized a block party. From this has come the opportunity to meet neighbours, learn names, and find common interests. I’ve met neighbours who I can now ask for a cup of sugar and entrust with keys to my house.

After celebrating our third block party, a small dinner club has begun with a few couples. We meet monthly and patronize local restaurants. From this dinner club, a crafting group has evolved. These smaller group activities make this neighbourhood feel cozy and like a community. It’s the type of neighbourhood I want to live in. This has all come from small efforts.

So if you (like me) aren’t the type of person to get involved on a large scale, or feel that you can’t make change, know that simply saying hello to your neighbours, going for a walk through the area, or lending a cup of sugar all have lasting positive effects.

Andrea is a speech-language pathologist who works as a clinical assistant professor at the University of Alberta. She is also an avid gardener and world traveler. She has lived in Alberta Avenue since 2006.