"Neighbourhood development is something that happens throughout the year."
COVID-19 has led to millions being isolated, detached and disconnected. Now the City of Spruce Grove wants to change that.
In a manner similar to the #StonyPlainTogether campaign that was carried out earlier in the pandemic, Spruce Grove now has their Connect the Block initiative. It has been running since October and aims to foster connections between neighbours through conversation guides, a curated network on the City website and other recommendations like hanging art in a window.
“We know that developing strong communities at the block level has strong benefits for social wellbeing,” Erin Rutherford, manager of Social Planning said. “This helps with community safety, supporting vulnerable residents and was a priority area for us prior to COVID-19. However, with COVID-19 there were adjustments that were made. The neighbour network moved online as a result of the impact of the virus.”
While Rutherford and her peer Karen Hurlbut are excited with the future that the initiative holds, they did note that engagement has not been as high as they would like. It is expected to grow with time and they are confident they have the ability to help others out in the winter.
“There is a lot that residents can do then to connect their block,” Hurlbut added. “Part of this is seeing what the community and residents come up with. If someone were to say they want to carol but they need a support we can give we would try to do it to assist them. I think that fits with the season. There are not as many opportunities as the summer but there are still a lot of ways that someone can connect.”
The campaign will continue even if the virus ends up fading from the public sphere and Rutherford added that this was a given. Community wellbeing is always a going concern and as long as that is the case the team behind Connect the Block in Spruce Grove will be present.
“Neighbourhood development is something that happens throughout the year,” she said. “These will provide ongoing engagement and ideas both ways from the City and residents. Even just shoveling someone’s driveway is such a basic and kind thing that can be done.”
More information can be found by going to the City website.