I hope you are healthy and safe. I guess we all realize by now that this crisis is more than just a new disease. It is affecting work, school, social relationships and many other things. Its impacts will extend beyond the sef-isolation period. I think Chris Mackie, our Chief Medical Officer from the Health Unit hit the nail in the head when he said: “social distancing is not the appropriate term. We should think social cohesion and physical distancing.”
I live on Lorne Ave and I made OEV my home since I moved to Canada. In the last four weeks, I’ve been spending much more time outside in my neighbourhood. Because of that, I feel my connection to this neighbourhood growing even stronger. Regular walks and bike rides might help my physical health, but seeing so many friendly faces (from a safe distance) is strengthening my mental health.
I feel blessed for being healthy, being able to spend time with my kids, not having anyone sick in my family and still having work. Currently, I am in a position that I can be there for others. Since the self-isolation started, I’ve been thinking about actions that I can take to help my neighbours. But, the truth is, I don’t really know who needs help and what they need exactly. Today, I realized I don’t need to have an answer. I can tap into the wisdom of the community.
There is no doubt that our neighbours like to help each other. Last year, a tragic event that will be remembered for many years brought out the best in our community. The support was immediate and overwhelming. More recently, I witnessed many small displays of love and care between people who don’t necessarily know each other. I saw: chalk art and messages of encouragement for neighbours and frontline workers, free canned food on the curb, flowers for neighbours and even an on-the-street-rolling-birthday-party for a child.
But I believe we can do much more than that if we get to know our neighbours a little bit better. Any crisis is easier to face and causes less harm when we have a pool of resources readily available and we know who, in our community, needs to use it.
What if….we don’t need to wait for an explosion or a big event to laugh and cry with our neighbours? What if we understand each other needs without having to ask? What if this is just a part of everyday life? Hold those thoughts in your mind.
So here is the simple ask:
If you need anything or if you would like to offer anything, please contact me or my partner Hailey.
Full disclosure, since last November I’ve been involved with the Community Exchange whose main goal is to connect neighbours. I thought the project was a great idea the first time I heard about it and I still think it is a great idea during this crisis. But I’m writing to you as Luis Patricio, your neighbour. And, every day, I imagine we can build a more thriving and connected neighbourhood, especially for those who need it the most.
Here, for example, is what an answer to this ask might look like – my personal answer to how I might help OEV:
Right now I don’t have any urgent need and what I can offer is:
- Bike delivery – running small and short errands
- Saying hi from a distance – I go for a bike ride or a run around the neighbourhood pretty much every day. If you want to say hi, let me know your address and I will make sure I will go by your house to say hi from the sidewalk
- Exchanging ideas online – recipes, activities with kids, games, ways to stay fit
- Connecting neighbours – if you want to help or need help. I might not be able to do it myself. But I can try to find someone who can.
Finally, this is an opt-in message. If you want to stay in the loop, please let me know. If you don’t want to be involved, you don’t need to say anything. This is an invitation, not an expectation.
Thanks for reading.
See you in the ‘hood!
Luis and Hailey