Moving In and Loving It

It’s a welcome sight to see new independently-owned businesses moving to our fair city. It speaks to a new vibrancy that is bubbling up, a creative DIY culture that finds a welcoming environment here. We talked to four of them that have settled in New Westminster, started not by existing residents, but rather savvy business owners in the know that the city is on the cusp of massive change. Continue reading “Moving In and Loving It”

Conjuring the Past

Not content to tread the same path on my daily walks, I like to wander through different neighbourhoods, often with my daughter’s little black dog, JoJo, in tow. I am always struck by the variety of homes and buildings that tell a story of our city’s past when life was so different than today. Continue reading “Conjuring the Past”

Kickstart! Trivia Night Extravaganza

Do you ever wonder what to do with all that crazy trivial knowledge that languishes unseen and unknown in your brain? Lucky for you, you can bust it out at Kickstart!, a Trivia Night Extravaganza, coming soon, and all for a good cause. The night’s events will help sponsor a Syrian refugee family soon to make their home in New Westminster.

In a few weeks, Nader, his wife, Taghreed, their daughter, Raseen, age 12, and young son Mohammed, age 5, will be heading here from a refugee camp in Jordan. It has been five long years there – the only home the son has ever known. It’s hard to imagine what this family has been through. Their home city was one of the centres of strife, so they were forced to flee. A refugee camp is a life of limbo, of rootlessness and dislocation in every sense of the word.

Kickstart! Trivia Night Extravaganza is a great opportunity for you to make a huge difference to this family who is moving from the other side of the world to start again in our community. Imagine traversing the globe to a new home where the culture, language and way of life are incredibly different to what you know. Giving them a good financial start will give them solid footing to get grounded. Continue reading “Kickstart! Trivia Night Extravaganza”

A Sense of Belonging

Cultivating a sense of belonging in a community is crucial to feeling at home. But it’s not always easy to lay down roots when you move to a new place. There can be challenges – different ones at every age and stage of life.

When I moved to New Westminster eight years ago, I had no connections. It took some fumbling around to figure out how to create a network of friends and acquaintances. Over the course of my life, I had already made two solid homes, first in Toronto and later on Bowen Island, BC. In each case, leaving the web of relationships had been painful.

How could I rebuild a life in an unknown city now? With both children in the process of flying the coop and my having a home-based business, the usual tickets for easy entry into a larger social circle were restricted to those in other circumstances, I thought.

My eventual solution may seem old hat to some, odd to others, but it has been astonishingly successful and satisfying for me. But, at first, I floundered. Political engagement brought some sense of being part of the city. As time progressed, I did make a couple of excellent friends by volunteering.

Then a flash of inspiration. I decided to join a church. I can hear the skepticism: ‘That is so old!’ Or, some of you may be thinking, Of course, isn’t that obvious.’ Some of you may be dubious, ‘Don’t you choose to go to church for spiritual reasons?’ No doubt others of you are thinking: ‘Weird! We live in a secular society: what could church involvement possibly bring you? Isn’t religion the source of most of the strife in the world? Won’t science answer all the questions?” and so forth.

I’m sensitive to all those issues, but I realized that one of my major personal characteristics is that I’m a seeker – curiosity rules my internal world. I have questions that plague me daily: “Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is the ‘good’ life? How do you create meaning in your life, right now and in the long term!? Why is life so confusing, complex and challenging? Why is their so much violence in the world? How can that change? What will be the true impact of climate change in the long run? What is the future of humankind? What will my children’s and children’s children’s lives look like?” And on and on.

I have a large number of bulging book shelves that attest to my insatiable quest for answers, but I was beginning to realize that reading books is one thing, having a life is another. I needed to have both. It is little wonder that I gravitated to a place where people search for ways to navigate the great mystery of life and also to seek social justice, peace and rationality.

I had a good idea already that the Unitarian Church might be a good fit. I had a passing knowledge of it. I knew it was liberal, inclusive and principle-based. It didn’t purport to answer the big questions, just to help you in your personal search. Just what I wanted.

A quick internet searched showed that Beacon Unitarian Church had services very close to my place so I had no excuse. I took the plunge and went. I knew, almost immediately, that these were my ‘peeps’. Since then, I have been swept up in the warmth and energy of that community. It is a small congregation – maybe 50 or 60 actively involved – but it is full of the most diverse, thoughtful, warm, caring, knowledgeable, inquisitive, and politically and socially engaged people I could ever meet.

At church.
At church.

How has it rocked my world? In a nutshell, it has provided a place for me to grow spiritually, to connect with others and to become involved in social and political action. My latest involvement has been with the church’s refugee sponsorship plan. We have a family coming soon!

The church has provided me with a community, a world of relationships and a sense of belonging. Don’t overlook church or a place of worship as a source of connectedness. It may bring a depth and breadth to your life that you never expected. It may give you ground from which to grow. It will certainly bring you friendships.

When it gets right down to it, a sense of home comes from the quality of personal connections you make. And really, it is the intricate web of personal connections within a city that give it its heart and soul. I think New Westminster has plenty of that.

And I am here now, fully.