Letter to the Editor: New Residents and New Volunteers; Both Can Care for Our Community

We love receiving letters from Jamie Brougham. He is such a perceptive person. Few people look at the complete picture of OOE with his degree of detail and ingenuity. Here’s his latest epistle. – Joe Paraskevas, Editor

Looking at Brantwood recently, I noticed the city in the midst of cutting down four beautiful cherry trees beside the field house.

I knew the big plan was to have the (planned) bike path go through this space. I guess I somehow had it in my mind that the city would work around the trees. That was upsetting for the loss.

They should have tried harder to work around them. I mean this is our park. Caring about our community and its social and natural resources is what makes it valuable.  

I have spoken to a number of people who want to move into the Greystone and Corners developments. They want to move someplace where they may not need a car, where the people care about their local community, where there are interesting things that people have created because they care.

Two points here: if the city stopped telling developers that build ‘communities’ that the only thing they have to be concerned about is building housing and infrastructure and utilities to them, they might end up with more social and natural environment. What if we had neighbourhoods with their own ‘main street,’ with shops and restaurants that actually attract, parks with landscaping that is more than just sports fields, places where people want to go and be?

Left to urban planners in government and selfish developers, neighbourhoods have little social and natural environment. As a result, we have cars for long-road neighbourhoods that are full of human-resource storage units that people want to leave in order to enjoy life.  That’s sad.  

Then we have – by contrast – our neighbourhood. It’s tucked away between two waterways with a community that cares about the social and natural environment.

Who believes there has to be something to balance the all-important economic environment that dominates direction of most development? We have to continue to fight for our social and natural environment. We cannot accept that it may be undermined.

We could use some new troops.  Sustainable Living Ottawa East needs people. The Mainstreeter needs people. The Community Activities Group can always use volunteers. And our little community association could use a few bodies who know how to deal with a political system that is not built to listen to people.  

That will be this community’s job – your job – when new people move in.

Have a recruiting campaign that says: this is how we do it here in one of the city’s best neighbourhoods. We actually have to show we care and give newcomers the tools to do it. 

They, like most people, have no idea how to do it. If we define what that means and set an example, we do important work so that others can learn.

Saint Paul U., by coincidence, is even talking about a social innovation curriculum.

• Engagement
• Social innovation
• Protection of our local natural environment
• Building what we want and need right in our community
• And caring.

If you have time, now’s a good time to share in leading social development. We do have one of the best communities anywhere. It is people like you who make it that way!  

Jamie Brougham

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