I had the pleasure a few weeks ago of being supported by many of my neighbours. I was a participant in the Blue Nose half-marathon, and the route wound its way through my neighbourhood on the 21-kilometre journey through downtown Halifax.

The most interesting and meaningful part of the experience for me was all the people sitting on the steps of their houses, cheering in the streets, while their children banged on pots and pans for the runners. What an incredible showing of community.

How can we keep that feeling all year long? There are little things that we can do each and every day that will help us regain the strong communities of our forbearers.

 

Their communities extended beyond their neighbourhood into neighbouring towns. When everyone knew everyone, or had a connection to them, our cities were safer and stronger.

1 Being neighbourly. While our next door neighbour may not be “best friend” material, they are the person who can tell you which way your dog went, if someone unusual was knocking on your door, or where the best place is to get topsoil for your garden -- and maybe they’ll share the delivery costs with you. Chatting over the fence, inviting them over for a glass of lemonade, or taking out their garbage while they’re on vacation are little steps to create a trust between neighbours, and it doesn’t cost you a thing.

2. Supporting your community. We’re fortunate to live in a city that has festivals and events that celebrate our varied communities. There are numerous street festivals, cultural festivals and parades. To participate in some of these it takes no more effort than walking out of our doors and down the street, while others may take a short drive or bus ride. Community gardens have started popping up around Halifax. Stop by when some of your neighbours are in the garden and ask what you can do to help. Pop by yard sales, just to say “Hi,” and get out and about in your neighbourhood.

3. Give back to your community. Every community has a group of worthy associations that could benefit from your time, skill set and interest. Most of these organizations can provide you with an opportunity that fits into your schedule — all you need to do is ask. These organizations are the backbone of your community.

Now, it’s time to take ownership of our community Halifax.

Christina Biluk is Director of Engagement for FUSION Halifax. Visit FUSIONHalifax.ca to find out how to get involved in shaping our city; theurbanscrawl@gmail.com.