Can Ottawa be a shining example of community living to the whole world?

I think so… That’s the ideal I hold true to my heart.  This great city, capital of Canada, one of the few capital cities in the world that is not a federal district, has the potential to shine like a beacon…or burn out.

Which would you choose?  I choose to see it shine!

Like any world class city she tries to strike a balance between the government she serves, the businesses she hosts, and the people she nurtures.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… -John Donne-

The people, that’s what community is all about is it not?  The people who gather together out of common cause, the people that gather together where they live to support and care for each other and their neighbourhood, the people who gather together at work to help one another learn and grow, the people who gather together in play and hobbies to share joy and help one another rejuvenate, the people are the community where they live, work and play.

That is especially true in these trying times, but what can we do to build community? The good news is you already have some community in your life.  Where were you when the blackout hit?  Where did you go?

You see in times of trial, people naturally gather into communities for support, but what if that was our normal mode instead of our survival mode?

Community where you live.

Do you know the names of your next door neighbours?  …on both side?  How about across the street?

Its ok neither do I, but I learn from my wife.  She is a natural community builder, one of those rare people who builds people up naturally rather than pulling them down to feel better about herself.  I think this urge kicks into high gear with women somewhere around childbearing when they realize they are going to need a lot of help.  As I said my wife falls naturally into this roll as our house has been a short and long term refuge on an ongoing basis for several of our family and friends, she pools groceries deliver with another mother in the neighbourhood, and our inflatable pool is a water feature for half the block on hot days.  In the winter it’s not unusual for half a dozen folks to spend hours in our parking lot shovelling car after car out of the drifts, but I guess that’s just Canadian eh!

So what is community where we you live, it’s a neighbour who will lend you that cup of sugar or an egg, a fellow parent, animal lover, street dweller who you can lent your tools to, and get the back promptly…(on that note Dog, Pony I still have your soldering iron, and use it every day….yah), and neighbours who will join you for a nice sit down and enjoy the day-a-thon.

Community where you work.

I can sum this up in one book title (but trust me I will expound? On it.)

The 360 degree Leader

Which is a way to say, leading down or helping those below, or directly under you to grow in their understanding of the job, ability to lead others, and capability to do more than they are asked.

Why? Well your first job in any position should be to identify and start training your replacement, otherwise you may become to valuable where you are and never gain promotion.

Leading across is encouraging and guiding those at the same level as you.  Growing together and sharing the rewards will always get you farther than hogging the glory that cometh before a fall.

Lastly there is leading up, helping your boss and higher rungs to grow.   Doing this is the hardest, you really can’t teach them, you’re not in that sort of relationship.  You help them grow with support, taking the load off them and gentle nudges towards the information and lesson they need.

So what is community where you work, it’s helping people to learn in the safest environment possible, it’s sharing of ideas to make them better and sharing of recognition for better teamsmanship, it’s creating a weightless work environment where people can and do explore and learn on their own terms.

Creating community where you play.


…let everyone play.

Play, which is to say, sports, hobbies, relaxing time, hosting company, and family activities are all times for people to recharge.  By the very definition of the word play it is meant to be fun.

This is the time I find that community builders really shine; they take the few seconds to talk with folks they don’t know well, invite everyone to join in, encourage the newcomers, introduce them to interesting folks, and are just all round good hosts everywhere they go.

So if you wonder what happened to the good old fashion safe neighbourhoods, where you could live, work and play, walk to the corner store and chat with everyone along the way, you are ready to become a community builder and make your city, town, neighbourhood and street a more supportive, entertaining, safer place to live.

I invite you to become a community builder by:

welcoming new neighbours when they move in with a simple hello and a wave,

eating your lunch in a different lunchroom or with a different department,

lend the last good book you read to someone who might enjoy it,

invite a friend to you next work outing or a co-worker to your next social outing,

or simply throw a pot luck party and invite everyone you know.

As a final thought, if you are up to the challenge of growing yourself as a community builder, I invite you to move to Ottawa and help create a city that showcases community living to the whole world.

As always I am Dave Williams, your business steward and I hope you’ve found a valuable idea inside the Idea Vault.


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