Jul 31, 2017

By Joanne Edey-Nicoll, Instructor

bringing communities together bringing communities together bringing communities together

As I pondered the topic of this blog, I thought about the kind of events that bring communities together.
In our business of Recreation, people gather around celebrations and festivals such as cultural festivals, music festivals and Canada Day celebrations, just to name a few. 

There are, however other events that bring communities together. These other events are not celebratory, but rather disastrous.

This summer close to 45,000 interior and northern BC residents have been displaced from their homes by wild fires. While the affected communities were being evacuated, other communities came together to lend their support to the people that were in danger of losing their homes, their vehicles and other belongings, their pets and livestock, their businesses and their livelihoods.

Many recreations facilities were converted into Reception Centres and Emergency Shelters. Some city parks were converted into campgrounds. Stories started to emerge about how neighbouring communities were helping people lending their horse trailers to transport livestock to farms unaffected by the fires; people loading up trailers with food, clothing and other supplies and driving to affected areas to distribute the items. The stories highlighted the power of community and of people helping people.

As I was watching the news and hearing firsthand, the emotional account from affected family members, I read an article in Time magazine that spoke to the importance of community engagement and community connectedness. “Although there’s a mentality that disasters provoke frenzied selfishness and brutal survival-of-the-fittest competition, the reality is that people coping with crises are actually quite altruistic” (Szalavitz, 2012). This quote demonstrates the good in people and shows how people come together to support those affected by disasters.

While reading this article, I thought about what prompts people to become involved in their communities. When people are comfortable in their own lives, it’s easy to become disconnected and uninvolved. Of course, when a natural disaster, like the BC wildfires strike, it is obvious that people come together out of necessity. But, if not a catastrophic event, what motivates people to become involved in their community; is it the right cause, the inspirational leader or a potential reward? Perhaps it’s something else.  Building community connections, engaging the residents in our communities, providing gathering spaces and offering leadership opportunities is a big part of our recreation business.


Szalavitz, M. (2012, October). How Disasters Bring Out Our Kindness. Time.com, Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2012/10/31/how-disasters-bring-out-our-kindness/

Photos retrieved from http://vancouversun.com/gallery/photos-b-c-wildfires-continue-to-burn