Ways of keeping the community spirit alive

Local leagues are finding ways to connect with their community

Although community leagues are now closed to the public, they’ve still found ways to keep the community spirit alive.

“I think we’re still figuring that out a bit (as are a lot of groups) in terms of what does it mean to be a community in a time of social distancing and increased physical isolation,” says Brendan Van Alstine, president of Alberta Avenue Community League. 

The league is figuring out online programming, so keep an eye on their Facebook page. He explains, “All in-person programs are cancelled or postponed.” This includes the Bloomin’ Garden Show.

Spruce Avenue Community League’s May garage sale is cancelled, but they’re working on making some events accessible online.

“Our events are mostly in-person events, although our Heritage/History Committee is working on a virtual component for our upcoming Jane’s Walk so that it can proceed, even if a walking group is not possible,” says Kate Boorman, league president. 

Along with moving their board meetings online, they’ve planned a noise-making initiative for healthcare workers for the nearby Royal Alex and Glenrose hospitals. “We’ve also initiated a teddy bear hunt in our neighbourhood, with participating houses putting a bear in their window for residents and children to spot while they are getting fresh air.”

They’re also helping isolating seniors and families. “We have a group of volunteers who can help with deliveries and other errands for those in need (SpruceAvenueCovid19 Community Group) and we are brainstorming ways to keep our community spirit alive as we remain physically distant,” says Boorman.    

Eastwood Community League had to cancel a number of regular events, including two community churches, weekly meditation, and an upcoming conference. 

Kate Wilson, facility coordinator, says, “Our board meetings are also on hold.” 

Westwood Community League encouraged residents to participate in Sidewalk Chalk Stories. | Talea Medynski

Though they aren’t planning any online programming, they’re helping the community. “In terms of assisting community members who may be unable to get out for groceries or other essentials, [we’re] offering seniors and people with limited mobility free grocery delivery through the University of Alberta Bag Half Full YEG student volunteers.”

Kevin Wong, president of Parkdale-Cromdale Community League, says, “We have shifted some of our events online. We did one virtual pub night and that was very successful.” Wong explains how it worked. “You pour yourself a drink and we organize some online games where everybody can play through the video conference feature. So, we play games and have a drink and meet our neighbours.” 

Other online programming will be available, such as music lessons. Wong says it’s about finding new ways of connecting and making sure people are okay. Their office manager, Mike, is connecting with people, especially senior league members. Mike has been identifying useful neighbourhood resources on the NextDoor app.

“We also sent out a volunteer call for the Carrot Coffeehouse; they are partnering with Free Footie to do a food hamper system,” says Wong. 

Delton Community League was renovating its hall when the pandemic hit, so they didn’t have any events planned. Keep an eye on updates regarding sports leagues based out of the league.

Westwood Community League have planned some online and at-home activities, shared via their social media channels and their newsletter. 

Katie Hayes, director with the league, says, “We want to encourage people to still be active outside their homes. We’ve also encouraged more online connections.”

Some events included a neighbourhood Netflix movie party where participants watched separately at home, a window Easter egg hunt, Sidewalk Chalk Stories where people decorated sidewalks in front of their homes, and the 10-Day Step Challenge to encourage walking 10,000 steps a day. 

For information on what Elmwood Community League is doing, visit their website.

It’s evident there are plenty of other options for people to connect.

 “Technology is amazing. People find creative ways to connect to people and start a friendly competition,” says Wong. 

“I would encourage people to find ways to connect and get out of the house if they’re able to,” says Van Alstine. “Just be conscientious and responsible about it and stay a safe distance from others.” He suggests chatting with your neighbours over your fence or a few metres apart.

“Phone calls, video chat, emails, texts… checking in on one another is really important. We need to remember that we are not going through this alone, and that we are stronger together,” Boorman adds. Numerous apps can help keep people connected, including the Nextdoor app.

But as Wilson says, “I think in terms of being smart about this pandemic and minimizing its duration, staying at home, keeping social distance, doing what’s needed is paramount. We’ll make it through, but let’s all work together for a common purpose.”


COMMUNITY LEAGUE WEBSITES

You can also follow leagues’ Facebook pages

Spruce Avenue Community League

spruceavenuecommunity.com

Eastwood Community League

eastwoodcommunity.org

Parkdale-Cromdale Community League

parkdalecromdale.org

Delton Community League

deltoncommunity.com

Westwood Community League

westwoodcl.ca/

Elmwood Park Community League

elmwoodparkcommunity.org/

Alberta Avenue Community League

albertaave.org


Featured Image: A fun way to still connect with community members is to create events like Westwood Community League’s Sidewalk Chalk Stories. | Talea Medynski

Stephen Strand

Stephen works in broadcasting and writes for fun. He can be seen walking through the neighbourhood.

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