1. Spontaneity. I see people I know – past clients, colleagues, acquaintances at the gym – at Good Life in Liberty Village. We have spontaneous interactions. My office is at street level on King Street West. I have past clients walking by and waving to me, or current clients spontaneously popping by to say hi.
2. Availability. If a person who lived in a place of true community wanted to chat with a friend, the chances were good that the friend would be instantly available because they both lived within walking distance of each other.
3. Frequency. People who are satisfied with the experience of community are those who spend a great deal of time together. To create community we want to increase the frequency of contact. In the barest sense, in a new neighbourhood we want to take people from a frequency of zero to a frequency of at least one.
4. Common meals. It’s not just about eating. But eating a meal together that makes the difference. It’s a defining characteristic of community.
5. Geography. The characteristic of community that facilitates and drives the previous four characteristics is geography. In all places of effective community people live in close proximity to each other and the closer the better.
Geographic based community has its share of problems and challenges. Think about a small town for a moment. With a main street where everyone works and shops. A town where houses are all within walking distance. Some who live there would not say they experience intimacy but an invasion of privacy.
We want people to rediscover the ancient concept of neighbourhood. “Help each other.” “Look out for each other.” “I’ve got your back.” This is the deeper message we want to send out. Your lives will be better when you meet each other for small things and large things. One of the outcomes would be for people to develop a circle of friends with whom they can mutually share their dreams and their fears.