Central Ontario – Very Smart Communities

Did you catch this?  Maclean’s magazine ran a survey earlier this month on Canada’s smartest cities.

Did you know that Barrie is listed as the sixth smartest city in Canada?  Orillia is just three points behind Barrie, and both cities are smarter than Toronto or the GTA?  Sometimes Torontians take jabs at Central Ontario. It’s also commonplace around here to look at our problems and weaknesses rather than our strengths.  I guess we need to look at ourselves again. Check out the results for yourself. We’re smarter than we think. 

The survey measured four areas of "smartness": academic education, applied education, volunteerism, and participation in cultural activities.

It’s got me thinking (with not many answers yet): how do we impact a culture that values education, volunteerism and culture?  How do we cooperate with a community that clearly sets itself a step ahead? 

I love how our services try to make an every day impact.  I love how we use elements of pop culture in our services.  I love how our community groups are serving beyond themselves and partnering with different organizations in the community to serve the poor and needy.  I love the initial steps we are taking?

How can Connexus become even more engaged with our communities that are clearly engaged in deeper ways than many people think?  Love to hear your reaction to this story and survey.

– Carey

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7 Comments

  1. Neil Magneson says, September 22, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    I found Carey's observations about the "smart communities" survey and the survey itself to be very interesting.

    I spoke with Rich about this over coffee recently and I really think that one of the ways that we could engage our community effectively is by sponsoring an action oriented humanitarian project. Their are hundreds of worthy causes that people care about (Christians and non-Christians alike)and there are hundreds of organizations that we can partner with to deliver humanitarian aid.

    For example, if Connexus were to organize a project to raise money for mosquito nets for use in areas plagued by malaria or to fund a community drinking water well in Africa, I think that there are hundreds of people that would get involved in taking action.

    It could look something like this:

    50 people from Connexus become project team leaders and knock on 25 neighbors' doors each to explain the project and to invite them to participate in the local campaign.

    Some percentage of those 1250 neighbors will then attend an organizational meeting sponsored by Connexus to put the plan into action. This meeting would be a great opportunity to interface with our community and to start new relationships with those that don't attend church. We would also invite the general public via free advertising on local radio and through the local newspapers. We could possibly have a presentation arranged by the organization that will be delivering the services that we are supporting – I think that this would make for a very interesting evening and would be a great draw.

    Each team leader from Connexus would be responsible for a small team of community volunteers that will knock on another 25 doors to ask people to consider donating a mosquito net (or whatever the project ends up being. These small teams will be another opportunity for us to interact with our neighbors.

    My sense is that many people in our community would be naturally attracted to a group of believers that are trying to live out there faith in ways that include service to those that urgently need our help.

    I'd be interested in working on a project like this if anyone else sees any potential.

    What do you think?

  2. Carey Nieuwhof says, September 24, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Hi Neal

    Man, we talked about your idea at staff meetings yesterday and today. I love it. I think you are on to something with engaging our neighbours. There are people who will definitely engage on a compassion project who would not necessarily make a first entry point on Sunday. I think that's a great idea to engage neighbours in the way you describe. Moreover, helping people who are in need is what the church should be doing.

    We have to make some key decisions on our Christmas series in the next week, but your concept is definitely on our minds. Thanks Neal. Love your heart!

  3. Tim L. Walker says, September 25, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Yeah… I've been thinking about your post, Neil… love the idea…

  4. Rich says, September 25, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    when do you start? what's stopping us from doing this? why not?

    Check this out:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080924.wcomalaria25/BNStory/specialComment/

  5. Neil Magneson says, September 26, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Cool!!!

    Sorry for not posting sooner, its been a crazy week.

    Thanks a lot for your posts and enthusiasm about seeing something like this happen for us and our community! Now I'm excited.

    I'm going to start setting aside some time on a regular basis to work on some specific ideas and options for us to consider. If anyone is interested in doing some brainstorming etc. that would be great – email me at neil@nationaldental.com and maybe we can grab a coffee or ?

    If at some point in time Carey and the gang feel like it is a good idea for us to move ahead with some serious planning, we can have a bunch of prelimary stuff ready to contribute.

    Hope to see and/or talk to you all soon!

    (Hey Rich, I've been craving the Golden Wok lunch buffet up in Orillia, have you tried it yet? Who wants to go to Orillia to have lunch with Rich???) Tim, are you in?

  6. Tim L. Walker says, September 27, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Sure, count me in. 🙂 It's projects like this that really fulfill our role as Christians – by serving the needy and introducing the community to Christ…

  7. Neil Magneson says, September 27, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Cool!!!

    Sorry for not posting sooner, its been a crazy week.

    Thanks a lot for your posts and enthusiasm about seeing something like this happen for us and our community! Now I'm excited.

    I'm going to start setting aside some time on a regular basis to work on some specific ideas and options for us to consider. If anyone is interested in doing some brainstorming etc. that would be great – email me at neil@nationaldental.com and maybe we can grab a coffee or ?

    If at some point in time Carey and the gang feel like it is a good idea for us to move ahead with some serious planning, we can have a bunch of prelimary stuff ready to contribute.

    Hope to see and/or talk to you all soon!

    (Hey Rich, I've been craving the Golden Wok lunch buffet up in Orillia, have you tried it yet? Who wants to go to Orillia to have lunch with Rich???) Tim, are you in?

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