“Busy” is the new small talk. Instead of discussing the weather, we talk about how many things we’ve got on the go, and oftentimes the B-word has become the default response to “How are you?”
That mindset is why cities lack a sense of community, says Oliver resident Viraj Wanigasekera, who yearns for “the eye contact that you would make with strangers and the obligatory hello walking down the street.” To rediscover community he’s become a “Block Connector” with the OCL’s Abundant Communities Initiative.
The ACI has set loose enthusiastic people into the neighbourhood to combat social isolation—or, as Wanigasekera puts it, “to spread the gospel of citizenship participation.”
Susana Chalut is in the first stages of her role as a Block Connector. Like Wanigasekera, Chalut goes door-to-door in her high-rise, the Centurian Tower, to collect information about people’s interests, hobbies and skills for a database that will connect like-minded residents. Chalut, a writer who immigrated from Chile, wants to get to know her neighbours, to build community and to create a sense of belonging by connecting people and hosting events.
Wanigasekera feels the same about his condominium. “Community means people who live around each other, care about each other. I want to rouse people out of apathy and get people involved with one another.”
The Abundant Community Initiative is 100-per-cent volunteer driven. The OCL is looking for eager Block Connectors and Neighbourhood Connectors. If that could be you, email Angelika Matson at firstname.lastname@example.org.