I couldn’t believe it a week ago. I arrived at an event where I knew there’d be lots of great content on building community without my Blackberry Z10! That meant I couldn’t tweet the goodness as I’d normally do. Thankfully, I had a notebook and pen. What follows are the notes that I took with a few of my thoughts mixed in.

What community means

Here’s a blurb about the event:

After 45 conversations hosted in Waterloo Region, come together with others to hear the wisdom of over 800 of your neighbours who spoke about the present and the future of community. Hear about the things we have learned individually and collectively at the summit What community means

This gathering to report on 1,000 Conversations project and discuss what has been heard.

It was hosted by the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo, Tamarack Community, Kitchener’s Festival of Neighbourhoods, The New Story Group, the Multicultural Cinema Club and the Abrahamic Peace Builders.

What does community mean to seniors?

The event started with the report of what has been heard.

Seniors and youth have two different views of community.

The three pillars of community for seniors are: family, neighbourhoods and faith. The impact of World War II was noticeable. It pulled people together as a community by fighting against a common enemy.

What does community mean to youth?

Youth see the potential of using new tools provided by technology to build and engage in community. They can always find others with common interests and easily. That makes it possible to be themselves. They are not limited by geography for connections. An observation from a participant was that youth tend to be for something rather than against something.

Do you have time for community?

In the conversations held leading up to the event, lack of time was seen as a barrier to building the kind of community they would like.

But maybe instead of spending less time on community, we’re spending it among many different communities. Which raises questions such as: Does that mean we need to cut something out? Can we learn to use our time better?

That observation really resonated with me. If too many people don’t feel connected to a community, could it be because we’re spreading ourselves too thin. Maybe we’re involved in too many communities with weak connections and that makes it more difficult to have communities with stronger connections. If that’s true, it may be why our neighbourhoods lack a sense of community for too many folks. The neighbourhood as a traditional source of a sense of community is suffering from the abundance of communities in the lives of active people and the ease of finding them.

To me that means that if we want to enhance stronger feeling of connection in people’s lives that we need strong, healthy neighbourhoods. So that’s where individuals, organizations and governments should be focusing their attention.

Reflecting on questions related to the report

Most of the time was spent in small group discussions that came out of the presentation of the report. Here’s some of the thoughts that caught my attention:

  • What are the little things that we can do in our day to day lives that can build community?
  • In Turkey, you “buy” your neighbours. You check out who your neighbours will be before you decide where to live. Who they are is more important than the house.
  • KwartzLab is a community where people of different ages are gathering and connecting at a place where they can explore their common interest as “makers.”
  • Look for common ground when establishing a relationship ask:
    • where are you from?
    • can I help you?
    • can you help me?
    • what do you like to do for fun?
  • Building community requires being intentional about building relationships
  • kwawesomefoundation.com offers a $1000 prize bi-monthly to make awesome things happen in our community
  • what builds community? food, food, food

Examples of community building that I shared

We were asked to share examples with our small group of community building activities from our experience. I shared:

Does this post have you thinking about what community means? And how to build community?

Please share!

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