Learning from Our Childhood

Submitted by 1000 Conversations on June 9, 2014 - 8:08am
A community conversation with a group of youth organizations in Halton

This is a continuation from a previous blog post.  To read Part 1 Click Here


We also talked about the hurriedness and busyness that seems to be pervasive within our society.  Several people talked about the important experience growing up of eating at the kitchen or dinning room table every evening as a family.  Some of us still try and do this but find it challenging as we are competing with so many other demands in our lives such as evening sports and activities.  Now instead we find ourselves rushing through the dinner together to get to baseball on time.


We used to have our extended family nearby who could support us but now a lot of families are spread out across the country and beyond.  There are many families in our neighbourhoods who are immigrants or first generation Canadians and do not have social supports around them.  Many of them are just trying to survive day to day.


There has been a shift towards the city.  In the process we are losing our sense of community common to small towns. The challenge of cities is how can we become a place many neighbourhoods each with their own identity and character.


As we build bigger cities we have moved away form designing them in a way that fosters neighbourliness.  Right now we are building them so our garages are in the front and our porches are in the back.  We are also reducing the common spaces, maybe to save money.


One person shared how when they were growing up everyone had a porch and everyone was sitting on the “damn porch.”  It was a congregation space. 


“We don’t have porches now so where are people suppose to stand.  Their lawn?  Their driveway?  I think communities are built on garbage night and a really big snowfall because it’s the shoveling of your snow and the taking out of your garbage and it is a shame that we don’t say you have to take out your garbage during this half hour time slot, because then everyone would be out together.  You see on garbage night people are talking.  When you have a snow fall all of a sudden you have community.”


We talked about the black out as a moment when everyone came out connected and shared food together.  “It was a feast.”


One member of our group was in Europe over the summer and noticed that their neighbourhoods are very different then ours.  They are a lot denser.  There are so many little squares and café’s for people to gather and connect.  We are all about our grass and backyards and we put up our fences and isolate ourselves from our neighbours.  There is a great ted talk about how European cities were designed before cars so everything had to be walkable.  In North America most of our cities are post car so they are designed around them as the main form of transportation.


“I used to watch these groups of Indian families, old men and women and they would sit and chat at the park in the evening.  They still had that in their culture, going for a walk or chat for hours. Not because there was a problem or anything that needed to be discussed, they were just talking and being together.  We have lost that ability to just be and to get out and talk to people because we are so darn busy.”


“Our society has become so self-sufficient.  There is not a need to reach out to be together so we stay in our bubbles.  My grandfather goes to Croatia during the summer and he spends his time on the porch with family and friends eating meals together and when he comes back to Hamilton he goes through this incredible depression because its not happen here.  It might if there is some special occasion or if we arrange to do something.  For him its night and day.  It is hard to replicate because we live in a different culture.”


We talked about how we have professionalized and structured everything.  Seniors are a great example, or people who live on the edges of society.  When we professionalize something it is not about relationship it is not about community it is about a service.  We can’t build a relationship because that is unprofessional.  We must maintain that professional distance for my security and for yours.


This proved to be a deep and impactful conversation for the group.  It also solidifies for us why what we are doing to embed the developmental assets in every aspect of our work is so important.