The OEV Community Exchange Project was created to further weave the social fabric of a vibrant, connected, and active community, and to further build on the wealth of skills and assets in the Old East Village neighbourhood.
The project emerged when the Old East Village Community Association’s Data Collection Committee and the London InterCommunity Health Centre jointly recognized that informal connections and relationships were being built in this community around the need for specific skills, services, and goods. Facebook© postings, email requests, Twitter©, and other forms of communication have fostered the linking of community members either looking to receive, or looking to offer, specific skills, services, or items. At the same time, there was recognition that this informal exchange and communication system can, at times, be challenging, limiting, and non-inclusive. There was a joint appreciation of the need to develop a more formal system for residents to be able to connect and share their gifts and skills, which was still user-friendly and accessible.
This joint recognition and appreciation has resulted in the development of both a web-based tool by community partner Ontario SEO and the accompanying concept of Block Connectors – real people in your community – who will facilitate connections between neighbours and to the web-based tool, and will help identify the skills, gifts, and capacities of local residents.
The four main goals of the project are to:
- celebrate community assets
- increase resources available to community members
- nurture relationship-building across the community
- contribute to local economic development
Furthermore, while the intent of this project is to foster and support neighbourhood-based connections and exchanges, our hope is that this project and the tools developed will act as models or blueprints for other communities looking to similarly celebrate and build community capacity.
A Block Connector is a volunteer resident who facilitates connections between neighbours and to the web-based tool. Block Connectors will help identify the skills, gifts, and capacities of local residents, and promote use of the on-line tool. Block Connectors will be especially important in identifying and connecting neighbourhood residents who may not be actively engaged in other forms of networking and communicating within the community, but who could benefit from the opportunity to exchange skills and assets. For more information on the Block Connector role, please see the block connector job description.