Peterborough Neighbourhoods Connecting for Community

Participants in a community conversation on what's working in their neighbourhood, what they'd like to see more of and what they're willing to commit to changing themselves.

Peterborough Neighbourhoods Connecting for Community

Dialogues moving quickly to what neighbours can do to create the community they desire

Neighbours in Peterborough, Ont. have been moving from isolation to community connection in a matter of hours. In small intimate groups they have been exploring their anxieties and fears and moving quickly to what they can do to create the neighbourhood and community they desire.

They are connecting, discovering shared commitment, and identifying what they can do to bring possibilities to life. It is abundantly clear they are recognizing that they are not powerless and that their collaboration can make a difference.

“I’m taking away knowing that there are people in the community that are wanting and willing to help and I’m willing to give any help and support I can to the community to make this a better place for us and our children,” says a resident after a two-hour gathering early in December.

“What I’m taking away is hope that there is an ability with the outcome to this to make this a better place for our children,” says another.

“I’ve been really inspired and encouraged by the quality of connection and community resourcefulness that’s emerging from this dialogue process,” says Marion Little, a cohost of the gatherings along with Peter Pula of Axiom News and the Peterborough Dialogues.

Peter invites neighbourhoods to reclaim their relationships and embrace their power for creating the future they desire. “Blaming and complaining is the voice of our own helplessness — and we are not helpless," he says.

The dialogues, held in four different social housing complexes throughout the month of December, are inspiring and encouraging other Peterborough citizens.

“This is a really hands on, practical project that is so needed in Peterborough, in all corners of the city,” writes one in response to a news story and video from one of the gatherings.

“I’ve been feeling a bit weighed down by the overwhelming number of bad stories in the news, and in particular the hateful, fearful, angry comments that often follow any story or posting online. It seems like so many people are just ready to write each other off with vitriolic comments that it makes you wonder if understanding and cooperation are possible. Turns out it starts by turning off the laptop and sitting down with people face to face.”

Another Peterborough reader expresses a wish to see these dialogues held in other parts of the city.

“I’d love to see conversations opened up where our daughter lives,” she writes. “It’s such a beautiful building, in a beautiful part of town, but there is truly no sense of community in the building. Although the current building manager is keen to nurture a healthier environment for the residents, there really is no opportunity for people to come together, to get to know one another. I know that many residents feel lonely because of a lack of meaningful engagement with their neighbours. There is a beautiful community space that goes unused, a roof garden that is under-utilized, and there are huge corridor spaces that could be used strategically to bring people together, and yet the only place where I see people congregating is at the smoking bench. So much potential. So little realization of that potential.”

"It is now clear that the good life in the 21st century will have to be grown in the local neighbourhood," writes John McKnight, father of asset-based community development and a key inspiration for the work of Axiom News and the Peterborough Dialogues.

"Once we see the need for a strong, connected, productive local community, our basic building blocks are the skills, gifts, passions and knowledge of all our neighbours. It is these neighbourly capacities that are most often unknown to us. It is making these capacities visible and connected that is the basic task of a functioning 21st century."

To the right we include one of several brief video harvests from the Peterborough gatherings. The video features those who were in the room speaking to what they're taking away.

To read and watch more about what's happening in Peterborough, visit peterboroughdialogues.media.

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Michelle Strutzenberger

Generative Journalist

 

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