One of the things that is keeping me quite involved these days is my Neighbourhood Group. It occurred to me that this is a topic that might interest some of you the way it interests me and I’d like to begin a series on this topic. It was this topic that saw me in Toronto speaking at a Symposium on Citizen led democracy one weekend in October and the speaker at an informational evening another night in October in front of our Mayor, Councilors, Chief of Police and other dignitaries 😉 .
This is a huge topic so I guess the easiest way to start into this is to give you a bit of a history as to how I got involved in this kind of group. I’d also like to mention to you that currently what I am about to describe is ‘the latest thing’ when it comes to forms of democracy and self-governance.
I’m also requesting that if you come across a word and question my definition of that word, to please post a comment. As was pointed out last night, the word capacity can mean the load a truck can carry traveling down a major highway or it can me the potential abilities of a group. Definitions are important!
So, my story in a few words.
When we moved to Guelph in June of 2007, I was in a bit of despair because I was thinking of my ‘poor’ homeschooled children moving to a new city at the beginning of summer. I thought that all the children they might see at the parks, at church, or anywhere would likely be going on vacation and so forth making it hard to develop friendships.
I was also excited to be in the city. One thing I was excited about was the Garden Fresh Box program. A friend of mine, Marilyn, had mentioned that she had something like this available to her parents and I had discovered that it was available in Guelph.
So one of my goals was to get us joined to this fresh, local produce buying group. In the process, I was directed to place my order at the local Neighbourhood Group.
I was delighted to find that the group happened to be approximately 6 doors down from our house in the basement of the local school.
I placed our first order and introduced myself. The office was a very warm, slightly cluttered, vibrantly yellow room with 3 very friendly and welcoming persons. I was welcomed to the city, I was told about resources available to me, I was asked about our needs, and my children were invited to join their summer camp.
My kids attended the camp, and I volunteered to help as I could.
Then more things came up, more events, opportunities and chances to volunteer.
Eventually I was asked to sit on the board of the group. I was told that they felt that my skills would best help the group by sitting on the governance board, so last November I joined the Board of Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group and the Neighbourhood Support Coalition Finance Board.
And that is how I started to be involved in these groups!