This summer a unique project is starting in the Midtown-Mt. Hope neighbourhood. We are hoping to build and strengthen relationships between neighbours by recruiting Block Connectors, volunteers who go door-to-door to meet neighbours and find out what gifts, experiences and abilities they might have to share. United Way is funding the program, and thanks to them, midtown resident Emily Slofstra will be working as Community Connector to collate the information and help facilitate new groups, activities or relationships that might form from the collected information.
The United Way funded portion of the program will run for one year, until May 2018, but our hope is that this will build the foundation of a long-term relationship-building effort in Midtown. The goal is to recruit 50 Block Connectors over the next year, and reach out to every resident in Midtown! Keep reading to learn more.
Who is the Community Connector?
Emily Slofstra and her partner Dan purchased their house on Duke St. W. in 2011. In the years before they settled down, Emily lived and travelled across Europe by train/ferry/bus; she has been as far north as Inuvik and as far south as Guyana, but there’s nowhere she’d rather live than Midtown KW. Emily and Dan have two little kids and a dog named Dingo. Emily is currently completing her BScN, and when not studying can be found coordinating the Guelph Street Community Garden, meeting with neighbours, or walking to and from her parents’ house on Waterloo St.
Why do we need Block Connectors?
We’re lucky to live in a friendly, welcoming neighbourhood already, but there is always more to be done! Midtown is undergoing intensification with the LRT, transit hub, and numerous developments along King St., so increasing our neighbourhood-level vitality could help to improve the health of residents, protect the environment, increase safety, and reduce crime, as we face new challenges in the core of KW.
How can I learn more about this program?
Abundant Community Edmonton is a great place to start, as Edmonton has been running a very comprehensive program for several years now, and United Way is very closely following their program design in KW. Also, keep your eyes on this page for updates about our neighbourhood’s Block Connectors.
What is “Midtown-Mt. Hope”?
Mt. Hope-Breithaupt Park is our official neighbourhood designation; however, from an organizing perspective it’s a little too big for the scope of this project. Therefore our loose border for this project goes from Union to Victoria and King to Weber, which encompasses Mount Hope Cemetery, and is between uptown Waterloo and downtown Kitchener, hence Midtown-Mt. Hope.
I don’t live in Midtown, but I want to get involved! What can I do?
Well, there are always a few houses for sale and apartments to rent in the ‘hood, but they go fast so you better get shopping! Just kidding. There are several other neighbourhoods in KW that have United Way Neighbourhood Connectors, the closest one being King East. If you’re interested in starting the program in your neighbourhood, get in touch with Emily and she can connect you with Jonathan at United Way, who will hopefully continue this with more neighbourhoods next year. And you’re always welcome to come to Midtown events (see the right-hand side of this page for upcoming ones!).
I think my neighbour would be a great Block Connector, but I don’t have their email. What should I do?
That’s great! Feel free to stop by and start a conversation with them to gauge interest levels, or pass on their address to Emily and she can chat with them about the opportunity. Emily will also be using other outreach methods to get in touch with those who don’t have regular access to email or may not know about this site, so that all potential Block Connectors will be connected with over the year.
I already know all of my neighbours. Why should I sign up to be a Block Connector?
That’s really awesome, and we’d love to get to know your neighbours too! Each Block Connector is assigned ~20 households, so even if you’re already fairly connected our hope is that you will perhaps reach out to houses you might otherwise have avoided (either purposely or inadvertently), and help to make connections beyond the block and throughout the neighbourhood. We also hope that this program will help new residents to connect more quickly once they move in.
I’m new to the neighbourhood. Can I be a Block Connector?
Probably! Even if you’re neighbours with someone who’s been in their house for 30 years who also wants to be a Block Connector, one of you could do one direction up the street, and the other could go the other way. There are many ways to accommodate everyone!
I want to be a Block Connector. What do I do next?
If you are interested in becoming a Block Connector, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll send you a full description of the position. Then, she’ll arrange to meet with you one-on-one to answer any questions you might have. You will also be able to attend one or more of the Block Connector meetings throughout the year to go over the specifics of the volunteer role and how to get started.
I’d love to be a Block Connector, but I’m really busy and don’t think I have time for it right now.
No problem! We’ll be recruiting throughout the year, and possibly even longer if there are still interested neighbours. Emily will map out all interested residents over the next month to identify areas of overlap or sparse streets, and will roll out in multiple phases over the next year. For now you can email email@example.com and let her know that you’re interested and when you think you might have time.