Sunday, June 28, 2009

Five Ways to Build Community

Here I sit in my lovely living room, ready to bust out into the Commercial Drive community on what looks like a sunny Sunday morning. Or maybe I'll head out to Yaletown and see how the binary opposition of yuppieness and homelessness is getting along. Needless to say, I love action items that will help us all to work on building community.

During the 2009 CACEE Conference, which I was lucky enough to emcee, I was inspired by the keynote speakers, especially Ginger Grant, and some of the workshops to launch a new segment here at The Weekly Gumboot. The team here at Vancouver's coolest new blog is all about collecting ideas from everywhere and using them to build community. This new feature, Five Ways to Build Community, empasizes the "using" aspect of our ideas from everywhere. Enjoy!

1. Talk to Strangers: step outside of your comfort zone and start a conversation with someone you normally wouldn't talk to; whether it's a homeless person with a shopping cart, a businesswoman in a power suit, or an emo-hipster in skinny jeans, you will gain a new perspective and, possibly, expand your literal and figurative idea of "community."

2. Experiment with Food: recent findings show that food is grown, prepared and served differently around the world; trying a new dish will provide you with an interesting - and delicious - insight into another culture.

3. Give Hugs: my goodness does a big hug every make people feel great! Sure, be aware of "Canadian Space" - Jerry Seinfeld would advise on not being a "hugger" or "close-talker" - and pick your moment, but, hey, just ask The Kindness Crew just how impactful a hug can be. Hugs can change the world!

4. Take Public Transit: a great place to meet strangers! Having your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road gives you an opportunity to experience your community from a different perspective.

5. Ask Questions: don't just ask questions; listen intently to the answers - "active listening" is what the kids call it - and make your co-conversationalist feel like they're the centre of the universe. You'll probably learn something new and amazing about people, places and things, too!

Stay classy. And have fun with it!


1 comment:

Michelle Burtnyk said...

Great suggestions, John! For those of you out there who may be a bit more shy and may not feel comfortable talking to strangers (unlike our extraverted writer here), I would also like to add in just how powerful a simple smile can be. Whether you're the giver or receiver, the simple act of smiling can do wonders to lift moods and build community - and crosses all ethnic, age and language barriers!