Hey Coasties! I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer in true Coast fashion.
As we begin the year, I hope you have had the opportunity to refresh your mind with new goals and have time to refocus on what really matters.
On that note, I would like to share one of my goals for 2021 (and beyond). This goal was a key motivator behind my decision-making when I was a local board member, for my studies, and led to my current community roles. My goal is – a more connected community.
At grassroots level, a thriving connected community can emerge from healthy neighbourhoods. And in March comes a celebration called Neighbours’ Day.
We should not underestimate the importance of our neighbours. The benefits of connected neighbourhoods include a sense of belonging, greater care, feelings of trust, safety and improvement of personal wellbeing.
Overall, a connected neighbourhood can be one of the antidotes to a variety of social issues our country faces. And as a member of ‘Gen Z’ – a generation that has been dubbed the loneliest generation – we need to be extra aware of ensuring young people develop real and meaningful relationships with those around them. We should not need to see NZ create a ‘Minister for Loneliness’, as the UK has done, because we as individuals have failed to facilitate community and neighbourhood connections.
When I reflect on my childhood on the Coast, I am full of gratitude for my neighbours. In particular, Roger and Raewyn, who put up a welcome home sign when my parents came home from the hospital after my birth! They are renowned for dropping off delicious homegrown fruit, and gift the most delicious homemade shortbread at Christmastime.
So, as we mark Neighbours’ Day, which is actually a whole 10 days (March 20-30), I would encourage you to think about what you could do for your neighbours. How about a street barbecue or sharing a cup of tea? Or, using Roger and Raewyn’s example, could you even start a neighbourhood garden? You can go to www.neighboursday.org.nz for more ideas. Let’s take the opportunity to sow some seeds of community connection in 2021.