What is a Community League and Why Should You Care?

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Community League Day is again upon us. This day, every third Saturday of September, is set aside to celebrate neighbourhood associations. Sometimes we get asked what exactly is a community league and why should we care?

An explanation of these inclusive organizations is printed on this page every issue (see sidebar), but it’s important to remember that although leagues are similar in that they are volunteer-run and volunteer-driven, they each have their individual nuances. Some leagues, like Oliver’s, represent tens of thousands of people (19,000 to be specific); others only represent a couple of thousand. While property development may be a priority for some leagues, kids soccer and day care are priorities for others. Leagues are reflections of the communities themselves.

In Edmonton, community leagues are connected by an organization called the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and supported by the City of Edmonton. While the notion of community may seem old-fashioned, it’s a highly valued concept in Edmonton.

As for why should you care? The OCL helps shape our community. The league believes in the power of neighbours knowing neighbours; the requirement of building developers respecting our community’s needs; the importance of recreation, walkability, ease and safety of movement in Oliver; and the significance of inclusion of its residents. This is why you should care. More importantly, this is why you should become involved.

Attend an event, join a committee, or read the magazine—it all adds up and creates this great place we call home, this great place called Oliver. Some fun events to participate in are coming up, including Community League Day. This year we are very excited to have Planet Organic – Jasper Ave. proudly sponsoring Oliver’s Community League Day celebrations. Join us on September 17 to learn more about our league and to meet your neighbours and have some fun. And later in September, be sure to check out the Main Street installation and programming on Jasper Ave., meant to spark conversation on what Oliver’s main street was meant to be.

OCL board of directors: Lisa Brown (President), Craig Lidstone (Vice- president), Simon Yackulic (Secretary), Mary McPhail (Treasurer), Anika Gee, Marjorie Henderson, Justin Keats, Rowan Kunitz, Luwam Kiemariam, Tim Mallandaine, Angelika Matson, Marija Petrovic, Erin Wright and Hossein Zahiri.

Email OCL, visit its website, or call 780-454-2450 for more information.

Reaping the Benefits of Neighbourliness

hall2You walk by them everywhere. They are…your neighbours. But how well do you know them? There is a tendency to live in isolation, especially when we reside among high-density populations like Oliver. It’s easy to be unseen, to come and go and never truly connect with those you live near.

Efforts like the Abundant Communities Initiative (ACI) are trying to reduce isolation and bring neighbours together. “Block Connectors” literally knock on the doors of homes and tirelessly unite neighbours in similar interests, backgrounds, cultures and hobbies. In doing so, they create micro-villages of connection throughout Oliver—food is shared, stories are told, friendships are made. Knowing your neighbours is a wonderful way to be connected to your community. We encourage you to open your door to the ACI Block Connectors and reap the benefits of neighbourliness.

In addition to this initiative, the Oliver Community League hosts events to bring our whole neighbourhood together. On June 18, the league is hosting its annual rummage sale. The hall will be packed with trinkets and treasures, so be sure to stop by.

Our annual Canada Day Pancake Breakfast also returns this summer on, well, July 1, of course. Join in this tradition and meet upwards of a few hundred neighbours over pancakes and maple syrup.

Summer is always a busy time for folks: Children are out of school, vacation time gets put to use, gardeners—on their lawns, balconies or community plots—work hard on their bounty. And, of course, there are the countless festivals filling summer days and nights. Long, warm days bring us out of our homes and onto our streets, which presents opportunities to share even a wave and smile with a passerby. Take the opportunity—even if you need a pet to break the ice. However you choose to meet your neighbours, research shows that we’re all healthier for it. Our community is stronger, safer, livelier and more inclusive when we know one another

OCL board of directors: Lisa Brown (President), Craig Lidstone (Vicepresident), Simon Yackulic (Secretary), Mary McPhail (Treasurer), Anika Gee, Marjorie Henderson, Justin Keats, Rowan Kunitz, Luwam Kiflemariam, Tim Mallandaine, Angelika Matson, Marija Petrovic, Erin Wright and Hossein Zahiri.

Ten Summer Events From the Oliver Community League

 

Green Shack Program
JUL 4–AUG 25: The City of Edmonton’s popular drop-in program for children sets up next to the OCL Hall again this year. (10am – 1:30pm, Oliver Park, 10326 118 St.)

Civics Committee
JUN 13, JUL 11, AUG 8: This fully engaged committee meets on the second Monday of the month to discuss developments in Oliver. (7pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Events and Programs Committee
JUN 15, JUL 20, AUG 17: If you like event planning, this is the committee for you. Join the committee and help make a difference in Oliver. (6:30pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Walking Pub Crawl of Oliver
JUN 17: Meet with new and old friends at the hall on every third Friday of each month, before walking to pre-determined locations to enjoy the Oliver nightlife. (This is the last crawl of the season, until it returns again in September.) (8pm, starts at OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Annual Rummage Sale
JUN 18: On the success of last year’s sale, we once again invite you to find treasures you didn’t know you needed. (9am–3pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Ollie’s Treehouse Inclusive Playgroup
JUN 19: Every third Sunday, come to the hall to let your little ones run wild and play with friends. Ollie’s is a great place for parents to make friends of their own. (This is the last playgroup of the season, until it returns again in September.) (4pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Annual Canada Day Pancake Breakfast
JUL 1: Nothing says Canada Day like maple syrup on pancakes with friends and neighbours. Join us for a tasty breakfast! (9am–11am, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

OCL Casino Fundraiser
JUL 19, JUL 20: Are you able to help us with our biennial casino fundraiser to support our operations? Contact us at info@olivercommunity.com. (11am–3:30am, Baccarat Casino, 10128 104 Ave.)

Oliver Community Daycamp
AUG 2–5: Hosted by the City of Edmonton, children ages 8 to 13 are invited to this “paint, plaster and play camp.” Register online at ereg.edmonton.ca or through 311. (9am–4pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

BoardGame Night (7.2)

Gaming Afternoon
AUG 29
: A fun afternoon of games—both traditional and digital—hosted by the Edmonton Public Library. (1:30pm–4:30pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Soft Landings for New Canadians

Imagine you are a newcomer to Canada (perhaps you are) and have found an apartment in Oliver. It’s not the least expensive you could find, but it’s in a nice building surrounded by big trees, shopping, transit and a nearby park for your children. You’re settling into life in Canada and are finding your way to nearby shops, but you require more support to really feel comfortable. Where do you go?

LogoRecently, a couple from India found themselves at our community hall in search of help with settling into their new Canadian lives. Residing in Oliver, they were at a loss with finding a library. And the settlement services seemed to be bus rides away.

Right now, anyone in Oliver who wants these kinds of social supports will likely need to leave Oliver to find them. The nearest library is Stanley Milner. Many settlement services are located in the Downtown, Boyle Street and Alberta Avenue areas. Oliver is home to some 19,000 people—new-comers to Canada, students, seniors, families, lower-income persons, wealthy persons, homeless persons, etc. We are a small city within a city. Yet, we have very few social services located within the neighbourhood.

Oliver Community League is committed to seeing this improve in the coming years. As we look for a second garden space, we are also looking at the entire community of Oliver and the needs of its residents. Is Oliver Park an ideal location for a new hall/library/meeting space? Will the Oliver Park arena remain as is or become a modern facility with social resources housed within, like a library, performing arts space, a social worker, etc.? There’s lots to look at, examine, question and plan in the coming few years.

If social advocacy is of interest to you, consider running for a position on the board of directors of OCL. The Annual General Meeting is Wed., April 20 at 7 pm. Nominations are ongoing and there are a number of open positions. Anyone who is interested can inquire further at info@olivercommunity.com.

Knowing that garden spaces in Oliver are so limited, our Peace Garden Park director, Justin Keats, is hosting two balcony gardening sessions on April 10, starting at 3 pm at the hall. Come learn how to turn your balcony into an oasis.

As always, the Oliver Community League encourages residents to get an OCL membership, get involved and help shape our community. Happy Spring, everyone!

OCL board of directors: Lisa Brown (President); Danny Hoyt (VP); Simon Yackuli (Secretary); Leah Hilsenteger (Treasurer); Curtis Boehm; Jarrett Campbell; James Eastham; Justin Keats; Luwam Kiflemariam; Rowan Kunitz; Dustin Martin; Marija Petrovic; Erin Wright; Hossein Zahiri.

Email OCL or visit its website for more information.

12 Ways to Meet Your Oliver Neighbours

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Abundant Communities Hot Chocolate Social
MAR 6, MAR 20, APR 3, APR 17: In true Canadian spirit, with a fire and steaming hot chocolate to keep you warm, these outdoor socials happen bi-weekly every month all winter long. (7pm, Kitchener Park, 114 St. and103 Ave.)

Civics Committee
MAR 14, APR 11, MAY 9: This fully engaged committee meets on the second Monday of the month to discuss developments in Oliver. (7pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Events and Programs Committee
MAR 16, MAR 18: If you like event planning, this is the committee for you. (6:30pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Walking Pub Crawl of Oliver
MAR 18, APR 15, MAY 20: Meet with new and old friends at the hall on every third Friday of each month, before walking to pre-determined locations to enjoy the Oliver nightlife. (8pm, starts at OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Spring Potluck Saturday
MAR 19: Bring the whole family and favourite dish and join league members for a feast. (5 pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Ollie’s Treehouse Inclusive Playgroup
MAR 20, APR 17, MAY 15: Every third Sunday, come to the hall to let your little ones run wild and play with friends. Ollie’s is a great place for parents to make friends of their own. (4pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Drop-In BYOB(oard) Games Night
MAR 30, APR 27, MAY 25: Looking for friendly board game competition? On the last Wednesday of the month the OCL hall is the place to be for board game aficionados and novices alike. Bring your board game or try one of ours. n 7pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.

Drop-In Basketball
THURSDAYS: Everyone is invited to drop in to Grace Lutheran’s gym and play basketball on Thursdays. All skills and levels welcome. (7pm, Grace Lutheran Church, 9907 114 St)

Grandin Garden Meeting
APR 10: Help us found another much needed garden. (12pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Balcony Gardening Workshop
APR 10: Join the league’s garden director in an introduction to the basics of balcony gardening. Entry is $5 and funds go to Peace Garden Community Garden. (Two sessions at 3–3:30pm or 3:45– 4:15pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Make Something Oliver Grant Application Deadline
APR 15: Have a great idea to make Oliver great? Apply for our MSO grant at olivercommunity.com.

Annual General Meeting
APR 20: Your chance to see what the league has been up to over the past year, review the 2015 financials and vote for the 2016– 2017 board of directors. (7pm, OCL Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Your League at Work

We’re deep into the season of long nights and low temperatures but the Oliver Community League continues to bring warmth to our neighbourhood. As always, the OCL will be hosting inclusive events and programs, advocating for safe spaces that enable connection, and opening doors throughout Oliver.

In the fall issue we shared that we’ve been working diligently to bring programs and events to Oliver that will serve our diverse community members, and this momentum continues to build. On Saturday, Sept. 19, we hosted outdoor games, a barbecue and beer garden in Oliver Park as part of the Edmonton-wide Community League Day event. The OCL also participated in the 124 Street Business Association All Is Bright Festival in November, a special event that grows every year and highlights a great area in our neighbourhood and city.

The walking pub crawls around Oliver returned in September to great fanfare, and we were happy to see both new and familiar faces join us. See our events listing for details on future crawls and events, and come to meet your neighbours.

In August, we tested a new event—a potluck at the hall that invited community members to bring a favourite dish. We had a fantastic turnout and folks have been asking for another. So we are hosting a holiday potluck on Dec. 5. Because sharing a meal together is an immemorial way to also share stories, recipes, cultures and create community.

After 11 years of concerted efforts by dedicated OCL volunteers, the Kitchener Park redevelopment concluded with the completion of the playground this fall. The Abundant Communities Initiative continues to host biweekly hot chocolate socials in Kitchener, drawing us out on cold winter nights to enjoy the company of neighbours and friends around a campfire.

As highlighted in last issue’s feature, Jasper Ave. revitalization is a key advocacy issue for the OCL, and we hope that you’re involved in the City of Edmonton’s engagement process underway this winter. The OCL is also working with interested individuals to find another space for a community garden, ideally in the Grandin area.

If you live within our new Abundant Communities Initiative area centred around Oliver Park, please open your door to our Neighbourhood Connector Angelika Matson. We’re also opening the door for you to discover the history of our neighbourhood—Oliver history books are on sale for $10.

Please reach out to us if you’d like to know more about anything we’re doing. We hope you and your loved ones enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!

 OCL board of directors: Lisa Brown (President); Danny Hoyt (VP); Simon Yackuli (Secretary); Leah Hilsenteger (Treasurer); Curtis Boehm;Jarrett Campbell; James Eastham; Justin Keats; Luwam Kiflemariam; Rowan Kunitz; Dustin Martin; Marija Petrovic; Erin Wright; Hossein Zahiri.

Email OCL or visit its website for more information.

A Very Busy Summer

September is when we get back into the swing of routine after a fun-filled summer. But for the Oliver Community League, summer 2015 was very busy with programs, events and civics alike. Here are some of the highlights:

• A traditional Canada Day pancake breakfast was a hit attended by about 300 people.

• Make Something Oliver, the OCL’s micro-granting initiative, sponsored three events over the summer, totalling $3,000. These grants allowed Oliver residents to launch their own events and help make Oliver even more awesome.

• We hosted a senior’s tea in Peace Garden Park in June, a community rummage sale at our hall in July and a potluck in August.

For the first time, OCL and DECL partnered on a new summer soccer program in the core. Geared to kids under 5, the Urban Kids Preschool Soccer club attracted an impressive 20 players from seven neighbourhoods. Meanwhile, in partnership with EPL, we hosted a book club for newcomers and gaming afternoons for kids. Our monthly board game nights also gained popularity.

We’d like to give special thanks to our summer student, Angelika Matson, for her enthusiasm and initiative in planning three OCL events. Our Events and Programs Committee continues to experiment with programs appealing to a range of residents, but there’s always more we can do and help we could use. Email us if you have ideas for future activities, wish to help organize one or just have feedback.

Overall, the OCL’s engagement in the neighbour hood’s planning and development last season was strong and driven by the interest of many residents. It’s brought one development project to fruition and kick-started community engagement on another.

After years of preparation, Kitchener Park redevelopment broke ground this summer. Once construction is completed, tentatively this fall, residents will enjoy a themed playground paying homage to our historical connection to rail (already echoed in our beautiful mural), plus additional benches and picnic tables. Meanwhile, the Jasper Avenue redevelopment community consultation is underway, and the Civics Committee is working hard to engage Oliver residents and bring the results of that engagement to Coun. Scott McKeen and City of Edmonton administration. This will be an ongoing process.

Our board is dedicated to building a sense of community. Your involvement is what keeps Oliver an amazing place to live. We look forward to seeing both new and familiar faces at our next events.

For information or to learn how you can volunteer with the OCL, visit olivercommunity.comor email info@olivercommunity.com.

Oliver Community League Events

Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20—Walking pub crawl of Oliver. Pub locations announced closer to each date. (8pm, starts at Community Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Sept. 19—OCL and DECL co-host the neighbourhoods’ chapter of Edmonton Federation of Community League’s Community League Day, a fun-filled afternoon for families to relish in park games and barbecue, before heading to the beer garden for the evening. (2pm–12am, Oliver Park, 10326 118 St.)

Sept. 30, Oct. 28, Nov. 25—BYOB(oard Game) night and get to know your neighbours. (7pm, Community Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Nov. 18—Programs & Events Committee Meeting. (6:30pm, Community Hall, 10326 118 St.)

The OCL board of directors is: Lisa Brown (President); Simon Yackuli (Secretary); Leah Hilsenteger (Treasurer); Jarrett Campbell; Danny Hoyt; Amanda Henry; Hossein Zahiri; James Eastham; Justin Keats; Curtis Boehm; Luwam Kiflemariam; Erin Wright; Dustin Martin; Marija Petrovic; Rowan Kunitz.

Make Oliver Yours With a Microgrant

In the past few years, Make Something Edmonton has embarked on a new branding exercise for the city. The primary idea behind the city-funded campaign is that Edmonton is “an unusually good place to make something, from the ground up.” Born from the idea that some of our most cherished services and institutions—the Fringe Theatre Festival, Canada’s first mosque and first food bank, Bioware—were conceived, born and nurtured here, the initiative encourages residents to also build something from nothing. Learn more about it at makesomethingedmonton.ca.

We at the Oliver Community League think our neighbourhood is a pretty good place to make something, too. So, we’re exited to unveil “Make Something Oliver.”

We want to financially support activities and projects benefitting the community and aligning with our strategic goals, especially building partnerships within the community. Both individuals and groups are welcome to apply for a Make Something Oliver micro-grant. Individual applicants must be current residents of Oliver or a member of the Oliver Community League; groups must include at least one member who’s residing in Oliver or holding League membership. All applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

Successful applications will receive up to $1,000 per initiative after adjudication by the League’s the types of initiatives, activities or projects that may be funded include:

  •  Skill swaps or skill-sharing workshops
  • Community activity nights (e.g. board game or craft-making nights)
  • Advocacy groups (e.g. bike lane advocacy)
  • Drop-in sports nights (e.g. badminton, basketball, etc.)
  • Festivals and celebrations
  • Public/guerilla art
  • Educational or fitness programs (e.g. bootcamps, yoga)

Find out how to apply for a Make Something Oliver micro-grant, or how to get involved, at olivercommunity.com. We encourage you to dream big as you come up with a way to make this neighbourhood yours!

As of May 1, the Oliver Community League board of directors is: Lisa Brown (President), Jarrett Campbell (Past President); Danny Hoyt; Simon Yackuli (Secretary); Leah Hilsenteger (Treasurer); Amanda Henry; Hossein Zahiri; James Eastham; Justin Keats; Curtis Boehm; Luwam Kiflemariam; Erin Wright; Dustin Martin; Marija Petrovic; Rowan Kunitz.

Oliver Community League Events

June 13 — Pride Family Picnic afternoon offers all-ages activities and opportunities to meet neighbours. Bring a blanket and lawn chair. (12 pm, Community Hall, 10326 118 St.)

June 17 — Programs and Events committee meeting. (6:30pm, Community Hall, 10326 118 St.)

July 1 — Monthly board meeting. (7 pm, Community Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Aug. 5 — Monthly board meeting. (7 pm, Community Hall, 10326 118 St.)

Community-building is Contagious

Community is contagious. We build it through recreational, social and environmental activities.

The Oliver Community League offers neighbours ways to create and participate in their own community experiences. This is why so much of our effort is spent advocating for the future of Oliver. These efforts include the League’s Civics Committee successful presentation during City Council’s 2015 budget deliberations, to ensure that Jasper Ave. be reimagined as safe and accessible for everyone. It is, after all, the most prominent street in our neighbourhood.

Members of our Civics Committee were able to convince City Council to fund a complete streetredevelopment, that includes widened sidewalks and landscaping, benches and pedestrian lighting, like the east side of Jasper Ave., rather than the original proposal that would have put it back together to look just like it does today, with fewer cracks in the pavement. A big thank you to our Councillor Scott McKeen and the rest of City Council, who unanimously passed the redesign!

We also work to build community by bringing people together. Recently, we’ve begun hosting winter socials every second Sunday in Kitchener Park (11411 103 Ave.). They’ve been a huge success. Neighbourhood spirit was welcomed with a bright bonfire, hot chocolate and new community connections. Our monthly games nights hosted at the OCL Hall (10326 118 St.) also provided a mid-week break and friendly competition.

Community programs address the needs for busy families to meet. The Ollie’s Treehouse Playgroup at the hall every Sunday is a great way for little ones and their caregivers to connect and play. And for fitness enthusiasts, the longstanding Oliver yoga program has been a wonderful way to stay warm and make friends this winter, and will continue in the spring (view calendar).

We’re always looking to promote the involvement of Oliver residents. They’re invited to participate in our Annual General Meeting on April 29 at 7:00pm at the Hall (10326 118 St.). The strong turnout in the last several years reflects Oliver’s interest in the League and its activities.

We look forward to presenting our Oliver Strategic Plan at the AGM, a document we’ve worked hard on producing for the past year. It explores questions related to the League’s purpose, goals, and the way we involve residents. Stemming from our values and goals, we will be creating an Advocacy Plan to best articulate the needs of Oliver residents.

OLIVER COMMUNITY LEAGUE EVENTS

MAR. 15 — “It’s Snow Wonder” invites families for an afternoon of snow painting and snowshoeing. (2 pm, Kitchener Park, 114 St. and 103 Ave.)

MAR. 25, APR. 29, MAY 27 — The ever popular BYOB(oard game) night. (7 pm, Community Hall, 10326 118 St.)

APR. 29 — Oliver Community League’s annual general meeting and board director elections. (7 pm, Community Hall, 10326 118 St.)

MAY 30 — The annual Oliver Community Festival closes the street for an artisan’s market, rummage sale, historical church tours and more. (102 Ave. between 121st and 124th streets.)

Editor’s Note

You don’t have to look too closely to see the changes happening in your neighbourhood.

High-rises grow in former front yards. Offices sprout in parking lots. Boutiques blossom in small bays. Look down and you might spot a bike lane. Look up and you’ll recognize the growth potential dangling from cranes, and lingering in the spaces between them.

There are many questions arising from these development and demographic changes. That’s why the community leagues in Oliver and Downtown are collaborating on a new magazine called The Yards.

As its editor, I’ll make sure you still get the important community news and notices the Oliver Community Newspaper has always provided, but you’ll also get original reporting from professional journalists on hyperlocal issues. It will make sense of the urban planning jargon and esoterica that is confusing but critical nonetheless.

The Yards will help you make more informed decisions the next time you write your city councillor or attend an open house, but it will also entertain. You’ll hear about celebrated restaurants and shops opening around the corner, get real estate tips and meet the fascinating personalities that help make the area vibrant.

And when I say the “area,” I don’t just mean the communities flanking Jasper Avenue. I mean central Edmonton. With the ultimate goal of creating a more vibrant core, the magazine will promote connectivity and collaboration with its surrounding neighbourhoods.

Places like Queen Mary Park. That’s where I live. But I work Downtown, buy my groceries in Oliver and patronize the businesses that speckle all three.

I’m thrilled to work with the leagues, an editorial board made up of community members and stakeholders and art director Vikki Weircinski. We’re confident you’ll come to appreciate and trust The Yards.

As for the name? It’s a loving tribute. Both to the CN rail yards that ran through the area just a generation ago, and the role central Edmonton has always played, as a gathering place for the whole city.

See you in December. – Omar Mouallem