Life around Heritage Park

Submitted by Festival of Nei... on September 5, 2013 - 3:30pm
The park: a place to gather with neighbours

Heritage Park Blitz Thursday August 1, 2013

The second Festival of neighbourhoods blitz was held at Heritage Park. The Festival outreach team went door-to-door inviting all of the neighbours out for an evening in the Park. Not even the rain could stop the doing door-to-doors. Many neighbours have lived in the area for 35 years and longer! Families enjoy living so close to schools, recreation facilities and the beautiful green spaces. Many residents are in their golden years and enjoying the calm now that the children and grandchildren have moved on. We learned that some of those children are coming back, buying houses near to the park to raise their own families in the same place they grew up.

The Day in the Park event was during a beautiful, sunny afternoon at Heritage Park. Though the number of children was less than the FON team had expected, there was a lot of good conversation with adults. The team played a lot of games, badminton being a favorite for the evening, and enjoyed talking to residents who showed up just to meet their neighbours!

We spoke to women that have lived in the neighbourhood for more than 30 years, before the high rise was built and when the park was a wide flat field. They love the area, so quite, serene, and calm. They know a lot of neighbours, volunteer in the school across the street, brought up many grandchildren and had the memorable play days in the park with picnics, theater performances, concerts and shows in the shade and at the play structures and in the bushes around the park. One of them told us that she makes it a point to come out to all neighbourhood gatherings and activities for the many decades she has lived in the neighbourhood.

However, the older generation would not call the neighbourhood close knit in the sense where the old time residents visit each other at their homes, have coffee in the gardens, or interfere in each other's daily routines. These particular relationships that preserve everybody's privacy were appreciated and they would not have it any other way.

We asked them if they remembered any street parties in the neighbourhoods, and they didn't seem to recall neighbours organizing activities together. They themselves tried with an occasional garage sale, but few people would join.

Then, a different view on the neighbourhood opened to us when younger families joined the conversation. They were drawn to our chatty group, and it was revealed that they were a part of the street that was organizing fun parties for the houses around the block on ongoing bases. When they opened Festival of Neighbourhoods Brochure and read the list of suggestions for neighbourhood get togethers, they realized they have already done most of them: bake sale, plant exchange, movie night, BBQ, street party, etc. Their crescent might seem hidden for many residents, but at the same time, it was described as the most inclusive bunch in the Heritage area and about! They appreciated knowing each other, looking for each other, sitting on porches and chatting or having water gun battles in front of their garages. The crescent was described as a mix of older folks, watching over everyone, and the families, playful and excited to continue neighoburhood traditions. Here is how Roxanne Cowles sees her neighbourood:

“…the court has openly embraced our family with open arms and exclaimed that we could never buy a house in a neighbourhood as good as this. This was so reassuring and welcoming for us as we have 2 small children and that was a huge priority for my husband and I. Their annual Father's Day court party was a neighbourhood celebration like no other that we've ever seen. They had one couple from the court set up their band and sing throughout the day. When we were new to the neighbourhood, a member of the band personally welcomed each of our family members on the mike for all to hear. What a sense of community!  

...I can't begin to tell you how wonderful our neighbours are! In winter, we will look outside and notice that our neighbours have snowplowed out drive-way. Another will drop off  loaves of fresh bread from the bakery to our house for our children's lunches. Really, how much better can that get! If there is anything you forget at the grocery store, I call up our neighbours, Steve and Samantha for help. We even collaborate efforts and share bulk purchases from Costco for our families. Great way to save money! Not to mention lots of long talks and laughs on each other's porches too.”

There are some young parents, brought up in the neighbourhood, then moved away for studies and work. Once having their own families, the most natural place to bring up the children was going back to the comfort of memories, familiarity, and acceptance that they had in their childhood. And we heard a lot about how unique the neighbourhood is. It offers access to all the basic amenities, from schools and stores, to the swimming pool and to the hockey and skating arena. There is wonderful greenness of bushes and paths for dogs to enjoy in their people's company, and there are walking paths, little creek and woods that offer excitement in all seasons, from rabbits, to coyotes and even deer.

That evening, we meet the two worlds nested in the same neighbourhood, connecting past and present, and working together to create a sense of connection and care in their neighbourhood.

Comments:
Great!

What a wonderful reflection of neighbours caring for each other and really enjoying one another, too- thanks so much for sharing!

Caring is the key

Rachel, you are an early bird - reading us at 7am!

You can find out more about the FON on our FONKitchener facebook and twitter - and of course you can follow up with me if you are interested in more conversations that connect art, low-income neighbourhoods and conversations about caring for each other!

Fantastic

This is fantastic, I always find interesting to see what brings neighbourhoods together.  Do they say what was the catalyst for all this connecting and sharing?

I also find it an interesting conversations to talk about the balance between conncection and community with privancy.  I have found that age plays a big role in this, people with lots of young kids are more likely to be heavy communtiy focused with less concern for personal privacy.  What did you find?