Exploring your community? Why not MAP IT?

If you want to remain socially active and connected you might want to take a look at your local community and perhaps then at yourself.


Map produced by Community Cafe Member

How walkable or bikeable, how friendly, how sociable, how inclusive and how active is your local community? What makes your community tick? How much thought have you given to your immediate walkable area, your social contacts within it, your neighbours, the opportunities to meet new people and to engage in interests and activities?

Does your world begin and end at your front door or does it extend to the spaces beyond? Do you know where the meet up and bumping places are? Bumping places are where you are able to literally bump into people and start a conversation (coffee house, town square, local park, faith based organisation). Do you have a local park, is it socially and physically active? Do you have a local town square with adequate community seating and space and do people use it? Is your community open to intergenerational connection, accepting and inviting to different cultures and lifestyles and personal choice? Are new people made to feel welcome in all environments?

Do you know your neighbours? How many do you know and how well? Are you able to rely on them for the occasional errands or emergencies? Do you talk to them beyond the hello and the how are you? Do your neighbours hold condo or street events?

Would you call your neighbourhood a close community? If not, what would be your attitude to making it more connected and engaged? Do you know your neighbours attitudes towards creating more connected communities? Why not ask?

Is the world you live in, the people you know and the opportunities to make the most of your life important to you?

How dependent is your community on government action and supports? If you want to make a change you may have to get together with like minded individuals and local community organisations to make your community a more active, friendly, supportive and socially connected space.

To find out the answers you might want, as a first step, to map your walkable area. Your walkable area is defined by how far you would normally walk to get and do things in your local area? Any local parks, grocery stores, community centres, libraries, coffee shops, faith based community hubs and friends’ homes that you would regularly walk to and from, as part of your daily or weekly errands and activities, would be considered in your walkable area.

Get a piece of paper draw the boundaries and fill in the places you go to. clip_image002

Produced by a Community Cafe member

Your area may be 500m to either side and for others a bit bigger. If you have difficulty getting around, your area may depend on help from neighbours friends and family. Importantly, if you drive everywhere, you risk limiting social connection and engagement in your community for everyone.

Once you have mapped your area think about the places you go to and ask yourself the following:

· Do you bump into people on the way and say hello, or do most people ignore each other?

· Is your local Starbucks or Tim Hortons or Second Cup open and friendly with customers sharing a conversation every now and then?

· Does your local library hold events and clubs and meet ups in areas of interest to you? Do you go?

· What activities happen in your immediate neighbourhood, your condo or the 5 or 6 houses to either side of you?

· Are there regular events in local parks, town squares? Are they inviting, with people made welcome?

· Faith based organisations are the new leaders in community, opening themselves up to providing social connection and community function. 

· Do you know your local neighbourhood organisations? Why not contact them and find out what is happening in your area. Who are the “go-to” people? Connect!

· What would you like to see happening? What can you and others in your community do to make things more socially connected and inclusive? How can local businesses make their places of transaction also places of interaction?

While you may be too busy at the moment to consider your community, this may well change. How your community meets your future needs will depend on all our efforts made today.

Communities are not built solely by our governments, they are built by people who have a social and environmental interest in their local area, who recognise that trust and cooperation and connection lie at its very heart. Think about how local businesses, people of all ages and abilities, non-profits and the public sector can work together.

Community is a place where everyone has a potential role and a contribution to make. We can all start by educating ourselves about the importance of community, of social interaction, trust and cooperation. Most importantly we need to think of others and how each and everyone one of us contributes, connects and communicates.

Perhaps the most important change we can all make, as a first step, is by engaging in more meaningful conversation at every opportunity. Instead of just a “hello” or the “weather is great”, or “I am fine”, ask another deeper question and respond yourself with something more about yourself. If we grow our communities grow.

These and many other issues and questions are being addressed by Mosaic’s Neighbours and Communities group. Mosaic’s Neighbours and Communities group is exploring community, its development and its voice amongst interested citizens from a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and interests.


Produced by Community Cafe Member

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