Where do you begin if you want to become more involved in your neighbourhood? Here are some options.
Begin with research
Although professionals often start with research, you don't have to start here. On the other hand, you might be wise to begin with research
if you intend to tackle an issue you do not fully understand.
Begin with a community building activity
The "Community Building Activities" section of the Handbook lists seventeen informal opportunities for neighbours to meet one another. The bulk of community building in Vancouver comes from these activities. The most common are Organizing Around an Issue
, and Block Watch
Begin by joining an existing group
Most neighbourhoods have many different kinds of active organizations. Linking up with one of these can be an easy way to get involved. Begin by checking out the community groups listed by city hall.
Begin by starting a new group
If working with an existing group looks difficult, you might have to start a new group. New neighbourhood organizations usually form around a core of three to five committed people. Putting together a core of first-rate people is worth the effort. Once you have done so consider these questions:
- What are we trying to do?
- What size of area are we going to organize?
(The smaller the area, the easier the task.)
- Who will support our efforts?
- What is a good idea for our first action?
(It should be simple, local, and increase the group's visibility.)
- How are we going to reach out to others?
(Should we organize a general meeting and invite the community?)
Make a special effort to remain friendly with other local groups that have similar goals. Friendliness can replace the common tendency toward competition with the potential of cooperation. Inter-group cooperation is the engine of real progress at the grassroots.
Community Organizing / Part 1-1
The Citizen's Handbook / Charles Dobson / www.vcn.bc.ca/citizens-handbook