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Gabriola Island

Lighthouse off Gabriola Island

 

Whether you’re a newcomer or a long-time resident, there are multiple ways to experience more joy and connection in your community.

After numerous changes of address, and believing that a new geographic location would make her happier, Melody Warnick, still felt restless. She wrote, This Is Where You Belongas she discovered how to feel more connected to the town she was living in. It worked. She hasn’t moved since.

I found her book at my local library and was curious to read what she had to say. She suggests a number of ways to reap all the emotional, psychological and physical benefits of your neighbourhood.

I walked myself through her suggestions and discovered I’d inadvertently already been following many of them. It explained why I already love my community.

I’d like to share some of her findings with you so you can assess why you love your own community and perhaps discover a few ways to love it even more.

Ideas to feel connected where you live

Draw a circle with a one-mile radius around your home. What tasks can you complete within this circle while walking or cycling? Walking and cycling connect us more closely with our environment.

Within my own one-mile radius, I often walk to the grocery store, visit the Library and Museum, dine at local restaurants and visit our Post Office. My walks often have me chatting with my neighbours and observing the antics of our local wildlife.

Commit to spending a total of $50 a month among three locally-owned businesses.

As most of the businesses in my small, rural community are locally owned, it’s easy for me to go over this limit every month.

Do the stuff your town is good at.

My community is known as the Island of the Arts. It was the main reason we chose to live here. I attend many local music and theatre events and engage in as many of the Arts as I have time for. I’m currently experimenting with painting and collage.

Make a list of your area’s natural assets that help you get close to nature.

We have many local parks, beaches and walking paths within our 22 square mile radius. I live rural with nature in my backyard.  This includes deer, turkeys, eagles, hummingbirds, crows, ravens, orcas, dolphins, seals, and more.

Invite a friend to join you on a hike.

We have a map of all our local hiking trails. I’ve just bought a pair of hiking poles so I can navigate steeper paths more easily. A friend and I have committed to regular forest bathing ventures.

Find a place to volunteer.

When I first moved here, I volunteered at the Visitor Information Centre. I made friends there and it fast-tracked learning about everything my community had to offer. I soon started volunteering for events within the Art community.

Shop regularly at your closest Farmers’ Market.

Our Farmers’ Market runs from May to October and is a gathering place for all of us to meet, chat and shop with each other as well as with local farmers and artists.

Follow your local political representatives on social media and attend meetings, when possible.

I’ve always liked to keep up on what’s happening locally so I know how to vote in each election. I have attended community meetings about local issues and volunteered at election time.

Find out about Art Events in your neighbourhood and plan to attend them.

As I’m fond of the Arts, I keep myself informed about all of our local Arts events. I attend as many as possible. We have so many that the hard part is deciding which ones to miss.

Read about your town’s history.

Our Museum holds a lot of our past on display. I’ve read several books written about my Island and the West Coast, in general. We also have a long-time resident who hosts a story-filled guided tour of the Island during the summer months.

Now, it’s your turn.

Go through the suggestions on how to fall in love with your own community. Fill in your own answers. Think about trying on any suggestions you haven’t yet pursued.

I like what Melody Warnick says about how she fell in love with her town. “Wherever you are, experience joy…I can soak up every last drop of pleasure to be had in my town. I can choose to make myself belong…If I had to, I could do it all over again somewhere else.”

Do you love where you live?

If not, what steps can you take to fall in love with your community?

This article first appeared on the website Sixty and Me.