It’s so easy to get involved in a community.  You just have to put yourself out there.   I find this terrifying, but over the last few years, I’ve learned that if I don’t put myself out there, I’m missing out on lots of really awesome stuff that’s happening.   And to be honest, it’s quite exciting being a part of it.  I’m meeting lots of cool people, learning lots of neat stuff, helping my community, and feeling good about myself in general.   The best part of all this ‘engagement’ is that it doesn’t have to cost much plus my time and effort, and it is open to everyone.   Everyone has  a skill or some kind of experience to lend.   I have many reasons to be engaged in my community.   I think it’s important to instill a sense of civic duty in my children.  I want to be a part of the solution instead of the problem.   I spend less time sitting on my butt.   I am more compassionate and kind.  I have a sense of belonging.   My own day-to-day struggles seem less important and burdensome.  It feels good to do good.   And so forth.  My list of reasons would take us in to tomorrow.  Want to know what I’m doing?

I knit; therefore, I belong to the closest thing London has to a guild – the Forest City Knitters.  If you knit, you should join.  It’s that simple.  There are also a few other weekly knitting groups that I pop in to on more of a monthly basis.   I enjoy spending time with my knitting peeps.

I am lucky to live in Canada where we are extremely rich with resources.  We have so much food and money that no one should have to go hungry or live on the street; however, there are approximately 2,000 homeless people on any given night in London.   This is wrong.  Early this year, I joined the London Homelessness Outreach Network – a grassroots organization developed out of the passion of individuals to take action on homelessness in our city.   On Monday, October 10 (Thanksgiving Day in Canada),  we are running a performance art/public awareness event from 11:00am-2:30pm at the Museum London parking lot.  We will be building a cardboard housing development, raising awareness about the lack of affordable housing in London.   This project is going to be spectacular.   I highly recommend bringing your families downtown to witness  it.   It’s early enough in the day that you will be home in plenty of time for your Thanksgiving dinner.   I can’t think of a better way to count my blessings.

It took getting plenty older before I learned to love learning.   Knowledge is power.  A university education isn’t in the cards at this moment, so I scrounge around for brain food anywhere and anytime I can.   A year ago, some cool kids started Ignite London, and I was instantly hooked.  Ignite London is a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea – and the guts to get on stage and share it. Run by local volunteers, Ignite London is a force for raising the collective IQ and building connections in our city.   Grab some popcorn and your laptop and watch every single one of these videos,  and you will know what I’m talking about.  The next event is in November at the Aeolian Hall.  “Tickets” are free.   Then another cool dude came along and took this idea further and came up with City Symposium – a monthly event that brings you face-to-face with the most inspiring speakers, artists and innovators in the city.   I am on the speaker curation committee – it’s a sweet job.   Next event is Wednesday, October 19 at the Wolf Performance Hall at 7pm.  Don’t miss out.  Again, it’s free.   My friend Meredith is speaking about the Acts of Kindness challenge, and there’s going to be a flash mob performance.  I’m excited!

Which brings me to another project – the Acts of Kindness challenge.  Every October,  our community is challenged to help fight hate and discrimination by doing at least 1,000 acts of kindness in one month.   Last October, Londoners were inspired to complete over 50,000 acts of kindness!   You can register as an individual or an organization.  I sign up my organization every year.  This year we are knitting purple hats to raise awareness of the Purple Period of Crying, volunteering at the Food Bank, collecting Koats for Kids, developing a lendable kindness resource kit, organizing a Kindness Day, and incorporating kindness throughout our early years programs for the entire month.   We also keep a kindness journal to record acts of kindness we give and receive.   I’m sure we’ll find a way to squeeze in a potluck and call it kindness too!

It’s also election time in Ontario, so I’ve volunteered to help my local NDP candidate go door-to-door in my riding.  This is WAY out of my comfort zone, but I’ve done it a few times before for my friend who ran for City Council, and he won his seat, so I believe that as much I dislike knocking on strange doors, it helps win an election.  I really want this dude to win.  I’m not saying you have to help him too, but you should know your riding’s candidates and read their parties’ platforms.   Your vote counts.

I’ve also paid good money to have balls whipped at me.  That’s right.  My first game of dodgeball is tomorrow night.   I’m a bit anxious as I haven’t played dodgeball since I was eight.   I hope that no one is serious.  There should be a rule against seriousness.   If you are looking at playing sports for fun, check out the Forest City Sport & Social Club.    It’s recess for adults!   This should be enough to keep me physically active until indoor soccer starts in November.   I’m also running a few nights a week on a highschool track  with some ladies from my soccer team.    If I keep on this, I’ll be able to eat as much turkey and pie as possible next month.   I sound like an athlete, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I have very little skill, but I have drive.   Anyone can slap on runners and jog (with the exception of people in wheelchairs).   I run because I’m lucky enough to have legs that function, and that’s the truth.

I blog for my favourite non-profit organization – the Goodwill.  I love that when I shop there, it feels more like treasure hunting.  I love that I’m not adding to the landfills, and I’m reusing, reducing and recycling.  I love that I am spending less by buying secondhand.  I also love that all of the money I do spend there goes back into skill-training for people in my community.   So I lend my language and photography skills to their blog.   Non-profits and charities need champions.  Champions are volunteers, board members, activists, advocates – think voices who do not benefit financially from an organization.   They simply want to help because they believe in a cause.   Champions are gold.  Yes, I’m patting myself on the back.   I don’t toot my own horn often.  It’s due.

I haven’t heard back about my school council nomination, but I have a good feeling.  I had perfect attendance last year, and that has to count for something.  Some day I hope to be the President of something, and I think this might be my opportunity.  It’s either this or the knitting club,  and that one scares me something silly.

These are just some of the ways that I build community.   It would be simple and easy to stay home every night or better yet spend my life in a shopping mall like our capitalist society would like me to do.   Instead I push myself to get out and get involved.  Find your passion.  Connect with like-minded individuals.   It will lead you to places you never imagined.  Build community.  Be curious.  Do good.

11 Responses to “horizon”
  1. Good for you getting involved in all these worthy causes. I can relate to many of these as well as I have been undertaking a similar journey over the last few years. Getting out of your comfort zone can be tough, but there is nothing more satisfy when you do success in something you have never tried before.

  2. Thank you for writing such a wonderfully thoughtful piece. I agree!! We become what we are by doing what we need. You have found what you need.

  3. Oh Na,
    This post comes at a time where ‘all this’ is SO on my mind!
    I was lucky enough to be able to attend the #140ConfOnt this week and it was MIND BLOWING (kinda like a BIGGER version of the City Symposium/Ignite)..
    I feel that i will find myself and my place in this world now, i can finally feel it!
    I just still haven’t figured out how to do it, but i know it’s coming.

  4. elanknits says:

    Awesome, so important to set an example for our kids, I hear kids all the time complaining about not having the volunteer hours they need to graduate, my kids all had that requirement taken care of in grad nine & have continued to put themselves out there – why? because they have fun! & so do I.

    Looking forward to having a bit more time in November, do the knitters still meet on Mondays at Coffee Culture?

    • corazenia says:

      Thanks, Ellen! I’m preaching to the choir here! As for the monthly meetup at Coffee Culture, I think it’s pretty much defunct. That being said, I’m trying to get a weekly meetup back at the Covent Garden Market (2nd floor) on Sundays at noon-ish starting in October. I’m thinking I can lunch, grocery-shop, knit AND catch up with everyone all at the same time. 🙂 How would that work for you?

      • elanknits says:

        I can work with that, looking forward to re-engaging in London, it has been nice to meet a new community in Stratford, see you in November!

  5. Debbie says:

    You, my friend, amaze and inspire me everyday. ❤

  6. Isa says:

    Kudos to you Nadine! You are, like Debbie says, inspirational!

    I’m trying to do a few more community minded things too – it’s hard though when one doesn’t drive. Just adds a little bit more of a challenge to everything 🙂

  7. Robyn says:

    Wow, you are one busy girl!!! You are very inspiring!


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