When I first moved from Vancouver Island to New Westminster in 1995 in my early 20s, I chose it for three reasons, and three reasons only: it was the last city before a bridge, it was on the Skytrain, and it had cheap rent.

I’m not alone. When I talk to people who moved to New West at roughly the same age as I was, they often say the same things are what drew them here.

However, now when people ask me why I stay in this city I cite totally different reasons. It feels like a community, and not just a city. I love the city’s diversity and yet it still manages to feel like a small town. For the most part, the people here are friendly and giving. In a word, connectedness keeps me here.

At some point, I became connected to the community in a way I never anticipated when I signed that rental agreement on a beige apartment on Agnes.

Much of that feeling of connectedness was as a result of the work I did with the Royal City Farmers Market from 2009-2012 and the volunteering I do now for various groups. Through the course of these positions, I have interacted with and gotten to know many of the groups that contribute to this community, often thanklessly and mostly unseen.

The connections I now feel to this city produce interesting results in how I feel toward others. For example, I feel a shared sense of happiness and celebration when people I am connected to in the city – no matter how tenuously – have good things happen to them.

So this month on Tenth, we’re exploring themes of connectedness as they pertain to the city we call home – getting connected, staying connected, being and wanting to be disconnected, and exploring what services, supports, and activities are available to help us connect or disconnect as we choose.

We’re all just people in this place together, right?

A few resources / food for thought:

  • Not to get all woo-woo here, but connectedness can go a long way to help people feel empathy. Check out this three minute long animated short featuring Brené Brown for a look at the difference between empathy and sympathy.
  • City planners know that social connectedness is an essential human need. For a bit of a longer read, check out this article on social connectedness on Plan H, a multi-agency program implemented by the BC Healthy Communities Society to support local government to create healthier communities.

If you’ve got something you want to contribute to this month’s theme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – I prefer to have your voices here, not mine. And feel free to submit your community event to our calendar.