When You Build Community, You Build Love

The story of Soul of the City Neighbour Grants

By: Megan Zimmerman
In December 2013, Calgary Economic Development and The Calgary Foundation launched the inaugural Soul of the City Neighbour Grants. Dozens of grant applications were submitted and in April five groups were selected by a live audience to be the recipients of these $5,000 grants. The money would be used to turn their grassroots ideas of how to enhance or revitalize their neighbourhood into reality and these projects would be undertaken alongside their neighbours.
The result? Five diverse Calgary communities came together to undertake some very meaningful projects. The best part? Their entire journey was captured in a 30-minute documentary to inspire and delight you: Our City, Our Soul – Five Neighbourhood Stories.
A group of residents from Dover turned an unused tennis court into an open community garden and used the grant to create a colourful community mural to welcome people to enjoy the once forgotten space.
Children and youth from the northeast communities of Saddle Ridge, Castleridge, Falconridge, Taradale, Martindale, Coral Springs, and Skyview Ranch gathered for a weekly writing class and learned to overcome their fears of writing and then sharing their stories with their peers.
Community leaders from Haysboro engaged their neighbours in the creation of family crests which now decorate the outside of their community hockey rinks and have created a personalized and safe place for the kids to ride their scooters.
The residents of Wildwood turned garbage collected through their annual neighbourhood clean-up into a beautiful and unique water spiral which has become a gathering place and source of pride for the neighbourhood.
And a group of residents from Inglewood & Ramsay invited the community to ‘dance in the streets’ with them all summer long as they brought a variety of music and dancing to their successful Inglewood Night Markets.
What these Calgarians have created in their communities is an example of the people who make Calgary such a wonderful place to live. It is our hope that their stories will delight and inspire others to do something in their neighbourhood alongside their neighbours. As a group of elderly ladies and their youthful friends said in the film, “when you build community, you build love.”
Calgary Economic Development and The Calgary Foundation will be bringing the Soul of the City Neighbour Grants to the community again in 2015. Applications are open December 6 – March 17, 2015 and more information can be found at calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com.
New Scoop is a new Calgary news co-op, using generative journalism to explore and share stories of our thriving city. The pilot phase has received support from Cities for People.
This article was originally written for the New Scoop Calgary news co-op on 4 December 2014. We received permission to re-post.

Megan Zimmerman is manager of marketing, communications and research with Calgary Economic Development..

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