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Can we just stay a few more minutes, please?

Submitted by Rachel Elizabeth on November 15, 2012 - 2:46pm
Uptown West has Potluck for Neighbors


Last night I had the priviledge of attending the Uptown West Neighborhood Association's (UWNA) potluck for neighbors. As people arrived, they brought beautiful homemade dishes- and many children! Of the sixty or so attendees, at least a third were children. We met at First United church in a gym/multi-purpose space with big windows and a stage.

I spoke with a number of different people- quite a few had attended neighborhood events before, for others, this was their first event. I noticed some diversity of age- there were a lot of young families with children, a few elderly persons, and some students.

I sat with Lisa, who is part of the UWNA board. She brought her elderly neighbor, Ulga. Our table also included Leslie and Bob, a couple living in the Uptown Lofts and they brough their neighbor from across the hall, Susan. Together, we enjoyed the eclectic meal and began to learn more about each other.

Leslie and Bob had lived in Toronto, but once they started nearing retirement, they made a long list of criteria for where they might retire to. Some of the things on the list included:

- Being walking distance from a grocery store, pharmacy, and bank- since, "we saw what happened to our parents when they could no longer drive and these places were so far from them," said Leslie.

- A high degree of cultural diversity

- Being in a university town, as it "keeps you young," smiled Leslie.

As they looked around many places- Ottawa, Niagra, etc... These places did not meet their requirements. When they came to Waterloo, though- the Lofts fit every one of their requirements, so it was an easy decision. They love their neighborhood- though, Leslie did note that it has been hard to break into the community. This might be since there is no real common space for those living in the lofts to gather. They have a common billiards room and exercise room- but, she said those in her building don't frequent either places. I asked if they had considered a community garden- Leslie was thrilled at the idea as she grew in a large family where they eat from their garden often. This was Leslie and Bob's first time to a UWNA event- but, as we got talking and Lisa suggested a yoga night- Leslie seemed eager to join in, as well.

I also spoke with Ulga, a woman likely in her late 70s to early 80s. She has lived in the neighborhood for 42 years and after cooking for her four children (three are boys!) for so many years, she does not enjoy cooking for herself anymore as she lives alone- can you blame her? She enjoyed the different foods we could try. She and Lisa have a neat relationship. Just this past week, Lisa brought Ulga a gingerbeer as she knew Ulga really enjoys gingerale. Though the gingerbeer wasn't her favourite, Ulga evidently felt blessed by the thoughtfulness of her neighbor.

All throughout our meal and the rest of the evening, the large gym was filled with shouts and laughter as the children ran around together. There was a table in the back corner where books could be dropped off and exchanged for others- many were picture books. As two little girls walked onto the stage, I teased that since they were on the stage, they must perform a dance. Without hesitation they began to dance around, grinning all the while.

It was a great event- people really enjoyed themselves and some neat connections were made. As I helped pack things up, some boys were laughing hysterically as they played on the stage. One of the boys father's called him, saying it was time to leave. The boy gently called back, "please dad, can we just leave a little later?" When we have a taste of rich community, we often don't want it to end.


You paint such a beautiful picture of that night, Rachel. I guess I was stuck in my own head stressing about if enough people would show up, would there be enough food and would anyone volunteer for the board this year.

It all turned out fine in all regards. When will I learn to not stress about it beforehand?

Thanks for taking the time to record moments from that night.



No worries!

Hi Nina,

Thanks for your comment and for allowing me to be apart of this gathering- I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to more UWNA events :)

You are a great leader! Let us trek-on evaluating these events mostly on quality and not on quantity; on people's depth of connection and enjoyment.

Cheers, Rachel