Communities without fences

Submitted by Rachel Elizabeth on July 23, 2014 - 1:02pm

As part a lead-up to launching the community conversations initiative in Grey-Bruce County, Tamarack staff Derek Alton and Sylvia Cheuy recently held a training session with a group of Public Health staff and community champions.  The training had two parts. First we piloted a template community conversation and then we spent the remainder of the afternoon doing the 100 partners exercise designed to help us identify potential people and groups to hold these conversations.

BENEFITS

After sharing stories of memorable experiences of communities we discussed some of the benefits we see to being part of a community. Here are some of the ideas people shared:

·       A sense of belongings

·       Empowerment

·       When people get together things happen

·       Strength through connection

·       Caring for each other

·       Understanding: hearing someone else's experience which helps build a sense of connection

·       Common goals

·       There was always someone who starts it

·       Having space that serves as an ingredient of facilitating connection

CHALLENGES

Next we explored some of the challenges that stand in the way of us building community. We felt it was important to not that challenges are also opportunities to try/learn something new.

·       Politics...turf and parameters

·       Need to give up our own wants sometime for the greater vision of our community

·       We all have to be open to seeing things differently

·       The invisible line between First Nation & main stream

JOB OF COMMUNITY

Derek talked about how community is an action word. We were then asked to reflect on what type of action we see community being.

·       Growth, community is a living thing that needs to continue to evolve

·      Act of continually be aware/ knowing itself better

·       Community can teach empathy...we develop compassion when we understand

·       To embrace & support it's members

·       Shaping a share vision...connection to a larger "vista"

·       A support system & safety net

·       Developing roots so you can grow

·       Good will to those around you

·       Accountability

SHARED VISION OF COMMUNITY 

Finally, we spent time first individually and then collectively dreaming of the kind of community we wanted to see in develop in Grey Bruce Counties. Here are some of the ideas that emerged:

·       Connectedness - working together to address issues

·       Physically finding reasons to be together

·       A sense of safety & security

·       Encouraging health & well-being....active transportation

·       Knowing neighbours and pot-lucks...community celebrations

·       Out of our individual backyards and meeting together

·       Having shared places to go

·       Being outside together in nature

·       Young people out in public spaces together

·       We all have "eyes on the streets”

WHAT REALLY RESONATED FOR YOU ABOUT THIS CONVERSATION

As we wrapped-up, we reflected on what really stood out for us from today's conversation. One was that a common sense of what a healthy community is was found in the room despite our different backgrounds. A second theme was how simple it could be to build community: it's about nurturing relationships.  We left each of us thinking about what more each of us could do within our own communities, our own neighbourhoods. A mission statement that we really liked was:communities without fences. So simple yet so powerful and symbolic.