I recently moved to Cedardale area of West Vancouver with my blended family including a 5-year-old grandson. I wanted to feel a part of the community as I did in my two previous residences in Vancouver. I wanted to have my grandson be comfortable enough to knock on a neighbour’s door and ask for help. I wanted my neighbours to see if he was in danger to know where he lives. I want to have a neighbour wave, say hi, chat as we pass each other.

I inquired if there was a  block watch or block parties organized. I contacted the block watch and West Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbour Grants, who both promote community involvement. “The West Vancouver Foundation’s vision is for a healthy and vibrant West Vancouver, where everyone is valued, contributes and feels they belong – and we see your Neighbour Grant project as playing a very important role in achieving that vision.” I made my request and it was granted.

My grandson and I knocked on doors and delivered invitations personally.

I emailed everyone and then waited.

I received this amazing email from one of the neighbours I met and it really touched me:

I must tell you that having both you and your grandson come to my door was very special and meant a lot for a few reasons. First, to be a renter in someone’s basement, and to still feel included or thought of even made me feel good. Second, it warmed my heart that someone took the initiative to hold an event like this. I feel that many communities currently lack their spirit and sense of togetherness. It restored confidence in me that people still want to have fun and meet people they don’t know. I have not attended a block party since I was a small child, and I remember it to this day. Thank you again for arranging the block party.

The day finally came, threatening clouds overhead. As the time came, people starting bringing tables,, umbrellas chairs, food, dogs, children. It was like the saying, “build it and they will come.”

We had a head count of 60 people including block watch and a constable with his police car. Neighbours knowingly greeted each other, strangers extend their hands in friendship, smiles and hugs.

I felt great about my achievement in starting and putting together the party, comments such as, “it was a great party. The day was so perfect despite the 90% forecast for rain. I must say, I doubted the weather, but it held up for the block party.”  

“Kim, u did it. You made this happen. Now we know our neighbors a little better.”  

“Looking forward to many more. I am happy to belong to such a diverse community. Thanks again for your efforts to put on a great party. I enjoyed meeting so many neighbours.”

But, this comment really put it into perspective:

“I think it’s about remembering that you are a part of something bigger. You have a safety blanket all around you. You aren’t surrounded by strangers. It’s real fun. It’s not electronic. I think that strikes a chord in most of us, whether we know it or not.”

So, I encourage everyone to sow the seed of your community and watch the magic happen. It always does.