As a recent newcomer to the city, I initially viewed Edmonton as another large city where individuals are lost in the large population and my community came from my network of family and friends scattered throughout the city and province. A large city can be very overwhelming to someone who grew up in a small farming community in northern Alberta. Up north it is quite common to know all your neighbors, and the sense of community and personal belonging is quite strong when it is on a smaller scale. I didn’t think it was possible to experience those same feelings in a larger city, until I started volunteering for Next Gen and partnering with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues.
The city as a whole is large and sprawling, but when you start dividing it into 150 regions or leagues, you suddenly realize that it is very much like a patchwork quilt of smaller communities and local neighborhoods. You realize that although you may not be able to make a huge difference in the city as a whole, you can certainly make a difference in your local community league and in your own backyard. Edmonton was the first city in Canada to establish a community based organization, with the first one forming in 1917. These leagues are the history of Edmonton and the people who formed them did it with passion and dedication to their local communities. Our generation needs to continue building these communities.
The Edmonton Community Challenge, a grassroots event currently in the works for June 2010, was an idea that came about from that very concept. How do we empower and encourage our generation to make a difference in their own backyard and their local community? Next Gen and the EFCL partnered up in 2009 and a new idea was born – a fun event, open to all ages, that would reward participants for their participation, civic pride, and their desire to do some good for the local community. Getting to know your neighbors, having fun with your family and friends, contributing to a local charity, and winning a cash prize for your community league for a community project – how many more incentives do we need?
Teams of all ages representing a number of Community Leagues throughout the City of Edmonton will participate in a month long challenge to win a cash prize that will directly benefit their Community League. The events will take place throughout the month of June 2010, and will include a Neighborhood Cleanup on June 5, 24 Hour Bike Tune Up on June 12, and a Canned Food Sculpture Competition on June 26. Points will be awarded to teams based on criteria established for each event. The winner will be announced on July 1, at the Canada Day celebrations in Churchill Square.
How can you get involved? The first step is to encourage your community league to participate and organize a team. The second step, tell your friends, family, coworkers, local barista or postman and rally the troops! We will be launching a new website within the next week, so keep checking NextGen’s website for more details.