The purpose of Neighbourhood Small Grants is to strengthen connections between neighbours and engage residents in the life of their community. More connected neighbours feel more ownership in their community and a desire to make their neighbourhood a better place to live.
But how do you come up with a project idea that achieves all that?
We know how it feels when you want to get something off the ground, but are not sure where to start. So Neighbourhood Small Grants Program Manager – Meseret Taye – has spent some time thinking about ways you can get involved.
“If this is the first time that you are doing a Neighbourhood Small Grants project, you may want to think of a smaller project that you can easily undertake,” says Meseret. “Bringing neighbours together can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be,” she adds.
Here are some thought-starters to get you going.
Hold a social gathering
Neighbourhood gatherings such as block or apartment complex parties are great first way to invite people out of their homes to get to know one another.
Check out these social event projects
To make your gathering event a success:
- Get a permit from your municipality or apartment manager
- Have plenty of food and drinks for everyone
- Add games and activities for children and youth
- Make sure that everyone from the block or apartment is invited
- Include good music and other art projects if possible
- Identify block/neighbourhood connectors or volunteers who can help you in the future
- Collect neighbours contact information so you can develop an online social network to connect regularly through free sites such as nextdoor.com or Facebook
Share what you know
Many great neighbourhood small grants projects come simply from sharing skills, ideas or materials with others in your community.
Watch skill sharing in action
What could you share with others?
- Are you a senior who would like to share your canning and preserving skills with youth in your community?
- Do you work in IT but have a passion for repairing mountain bikes in your spare time? Could you share some skills with cyclists in your community?
- Do you have extra gardening tools that you would like to swap for a leaf blower with your neighbours?
How to make your sharing event a success:
- Make sure your activities are interactive, and give everyone a way to contribute
- Help participants to leave with new knowledge, skills, contacts or materials they can use
- Encourage others to learn how to put similar events – the more sharing events in your community, the more opportunities for neighbours to connect and engage!
Talk to your neighboursIf you’ve had social gatherings in the community in the past and you already know your neighbours, this is a great chance to team up on a group project.
Watch this group project
- Brainstorm possible project ideas with them by asking what they would like to see in the community and invite them to help out with the project
- Think of ways to change your annual project so it continues to be creative, inspiring, appealing and relevant. For example, your block party could have a specific theme this year (emergency preparedness, local food, music, etc.) with activities geared towards teaching people new skills and knowledge
- Ask what your neighbours, local businesses and organizations can offer and the different ways they can get involved in developing and carrying out your project
Here are some examples of how collaborative projects can work:
- The residents in your building might contribute different dishes for a potluck
- The Shoppers Drug Mart across the street could provide you prizes for the children’s games you are planning to include to your event
- The artists in the community might work with the children and youth in the neighbourhood to organize a music show
- The Chinese youth who lives a few doors down might help you to translate or extend invitations to the newcomer families in the neighbourhood
See what others are doing
You can get project ideas by exploring what other people who have received neighbourhood small grants have done, and then building on that idea for your own community.
Check out the following resources
- The stories and upcoming events pages of our website have numerous examples of projects
- City of Kelowna’s Good Neighbour toolkit can provide you with ideas of how to reach out and build relationships with neighbours, and includes project planning tools.
- Look at some project ideas from Portland to bring people together and make neighbourhoods vibrant
- The Big Lunch initiative from the UK has practical tips on organizing a block party and other ideas
We hope this has been a useful read on your journey to applying for a neighbourhood small grant.
We can’t wait to see what you come up with!