West Broadway Community Organization is one for the people

Town hall meeting brings community ideas together

West Broadway Community Organization executive director Greg MacPherson says the organization is looking to implement some social enterprise initiatives that were born out of the agency’s AGM last fall. Dylan Hewlett

The West Broadway Community Organization is hoping to get seniors and youth working together to improve their neighbourhood.

The organization held its second town hall meeting in late November to review the five-year plan for the community.

Creating generational programming was one of the ideas suggested to improve the neighbourhood.

Greg MacPherson, WBCO’s executive director, said the board decided that holding only one annual general meeting each year limited their ability to consult with the neighbourhood on the plan, which includes strategies for housing and green spaces.

While MacPherson said these types of neighbourhood plans are created through partnerships and consultation with neighbourhood residents - through initiatives like focus groups, and community meetings - the organization wanted to create a less formalized setting for residents to voice their concerns and hopes for the community.

The town hall was structured to encourage dialogue relating to the community plan and several stations were set up around the room.

“We had sharing circles and people were encouraged to come talk about their ideas and hopes on a variety of different subjects,” MacPherson said.

One of the main themes that came out of the meeting was centered around increasing social enterprise in the neighbourhood.

Several residents shared ideas to get the senior population working with youth, while at the same time creating job opportunities for those who might be able to use the extra cash.

“(There were) a few ideas around simple ways we can get our partners and our program coordinators to work with the population - particularly youth and seniors - to generate some income opportunities,” MacPherson said.

Some of these ideas include having youth help seniors with yard work and snow clearing, which will provide youth with work opportunities, but also bridge the gap between the two groups.

Other ideas presented were creating a combined youth and seniors drop-in centre, and a cross-generational mentoring program.

Since the meeting, the WBCO has compiled all of the ideas that came out of the town hall into a list, and has formed a committee to begin the process of implementing some of them.

“We’re going to start looking at the results of the (meeting) and try to figure out ways to make them happen,” MacPherson said.

He said the committee will try to take the ideas, especially those centered around programming, and find ways the organization can adjust the work they’re already doing and find ways to make them happen.

MacPherson said the WBCO tries to work with its partners - places such as Art City and Resource Assistance for Youth - to look at the ideas coming out of these town hall meetings and generate their own mandates with similar goals.

“These are the community’s plans, not WBCO’s,” MacPherson said. “We help to generate them; ... our organization is a relationship building organization.”

Alex White, director of communications and development at Resource Assistance for Youth, said community residents and organizations need to work together to create opportunities.

“Having youth work with seniors to clear snow or cut grass is a good example of creating opportunities that are easy to implement, as well as address a need within the community,” White said.

For a list of the ideas that came out of the town hall meeting, go to www.westbroadway.mb.ca.

Published in Volume 67, Number 18 of The Uniter (January 30, 2013)

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