We long to see the city be a good place to grow up and grow old. This means creating and supporting loving community at the neighbourhood level. We see this happening on our sidewalks and streets, in our parks and playgrounds, on our front porches and in the common spaces we live our lives. We see our neighbourhoods through the lens of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) principles: everyone has something to contribute, and community is the place where we are valued and find belonging.
focus on the assets present in a particular people in a particular place. Everyone is gifted and valued. Relationships are the glue that holds community together. Neighbours lead the way forward. They lead because they genuinely care. Why do we believe that people don’t care? We don’t ask enough questions and we haven’t been willing to listen.
Every person in our community has something to offer and something to contribute to the neighbourhood.
Helping people move out of isolation and into meaningful relationship is the way to build vibrant community.
Community initiatives should not only include neighbourhood voices, they should be neighbour-led. Community organizing should seek to include a plurality of local voices, helping people share what they are passionate about.
Local decision making should stem from asking questions, and conversations where people are truly heard.
One of the shifts in neighbourhood organizing is moving from to and for neighbours, to a process of with and by neighbours. Ideas that are done to and for neighbours are usually done without much consent or agreement. These ideas may be great in theory, but they leave behind the very people they aim to serve. When we move forward with ideas that are co-authored by community organizers and neighbours, we partner with neighbours on the way forward. However, the best outcomes usually come when ideas are authored by neighbours, where community organizing takes the shape of elevating and celebrating neighbourhood voices so that their ideas and passions are heard.
Since 2010, the DWCC has been involved in bringing neighbours together through community gardens, barrier free sports, resident-led initiatives, neighbourhood cleanups, art in the park, the farmers market, local advocacy, and so much more. All of this is driven out of a desire to create and support loving community, where everyone has a chance to be valued and find a place to belong. Value and belonging are also significant aspects of our way of life, which is rooted in the way of Jesus and comes together as a new monastic community.
Covid-19 has had an impact on community organizing. So much of what we do is about bringing neighbours together, and that is difficult to do in this pandemic. We are still striving to find creative ways to bring people together, but in ways that are safe for everyone.