More than 100 volunteers gathered at the Arts Barn on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 as part of the Abundant Community Edmonton (ACE) Block Connector and volunteer appreciation event. Organizers also premiered a video highlighting stories of neighbourliness and building community connections at the block level.
“The Abundant Community Edmonton initiative is volunteer driven, and we wanted to recognize the outstanding work that is going on in neighbourhoods across Edmonton by Block Connectors and volunteers,” said ACE Program Manager, Anne Harvey. “This video showcases the successes this initiative has had in building neighbourly relationships and reducing urban isolation.”
ACE is a neighbourhood engagement and community organizing approach intended to strengthen culture and connection one neighbourly conversation at a time. Since 2013, ACE has been successful in increasing safety, facilitating local recreational opportunities, fostering an environment of care for one another and reducing social isolation. The latter of which, Harvey explained, has never been more important.
“A sense of belonging, purpose and connection is invaluable in maintaining an individual’s mental health,” explained Harvey. “Block Connectors, with the guidance of their Neighbourhood Connector who supports and mentors them, aim to reduce social isolation by reaching out to members in a Neighbourhood and asking them about the interests they have, gifts they can share, and hopes they have for the future of the neighbourhood.
Over the last number of years, the City of Edmonton has become a leader in reducing urban isolation through a number of projects and initiatives. Abundant Community Edmonton helps to complement, expand and strengthen existing programs by providing a framework that brings people together and build off of existing talents and strengths of the people in the neighbourhoods they call home.
“These individuals make neighbours out of strangers. We see people who never knew each other a year ago, now having neighbourhood potlucks, sharing community gardens and even helping shovel each others sidewalks” said Harvey. “It’s such a simple concept, but they bring so much social value to the residents of their community, and this event is the least we could do to thank them.”