Photo: How to create social capital in your neighbourhood

Sharing the harvest is a simple way to build social capital in your community. (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

What kind of insanity must it be to confront that which we have not a hope of besting? And on the other hand what kind of sanity can we possibly claim if we don't? Sister Joan Chittester

Don't look for heroes to fix this mess we're in. Look in the mirror. Then ask:

  1. What are my gifts?
  2. What are my talents?
  3. How can I take a giant leap to encourage friends, family and neighbours to take action?

The Heart of Sustainability: Restoring ecological balance from the inside out, by Andrés R. Edwards, asks these questions and many more, like:

  1. What have you been called to do in your lifetime?
  2. What motivates you?
  3. What are the values that will guide us to the compelling future we long for?

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Edwards suggests these ingredients (I love a good DIY recipe):

  • Compassion
  • Openness
  • Understanding
  • Regeneration
  • Action
  • Gratitude
  • Empathy

I'd also add "fun." People will join (and stay) with your community garden, book club or workplace green team if it's not out of guilt or worry.

How can I start?

Build social capital! Put a bench or chairs or tree swing on your boulevard, front yard, garden or laneway.

People want to experience true belonging within their communities. And anyone can work to bring people together! You are enough — and one person does have power.

Possible side effects may include:

  • Meeting your neighbours
  • Starting a trend (a tree swing per block!)
  • Connecting with like-minded people
  • Making new friends
  • Feeling less isolated

Then what?

Take some time to observe how people use the space or artifact.

If people stop to drink coffee or read a book, maybe you want to add a Little Free Library (or, work together and host it with the neighbours a few houses down)? If children can't walk by without testing the swing, maybe add a chair so parents can rest, or a mason bee house on the tree to observe pollinators in action.

The smallest of gestures can help people experience their community in a deeper and more meaningful way.

Share an example of social capital already at play in your neighbourhood and what value it adds.

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

October 3, 2016

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Feb 13, 2017
3:00 AM

This is a beautiful way to nurture community and friendships. Salomon Chaussures

Nov 15, 2016
10:47 AM

Hey that’s my bay leaves basket!

Nov 12, 2016
11:12 PM

This is a beautiful way to nurture community and friendships. Thank you!

Oct 04, 2016
5:30 AM

I must appreciate the way you have expressed your feelings through your blog! Regards Roshanikhanna

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