Little seeds, big fruit

May 16, 2012 -- Living City

By Vince and Maria Luca

Toronto.: Neighborhood block party celebrating Canada Day and strengthening the bonds within the local communityToronto.: Neighborhood block party celebrating Canada Day and strengthening the bonds within the local community

We believe in a united world and for many years have tried to live the spirituality unity and to build a community wherever we live.

When we first moved into our present home, situated on a small court in Toronto’s west end, we decided the best way to get to know our neighbors was to invite them over, one family at a time, which has led to a warm rapport among us. The fruit of these small actions of openness as time went on was that we began to help one another in times of need and this helped us to become even closer to one another.

An important day for us is July 1st when we celebrate Canada Day, the date in 1867 when our country was constitutionally established as a nation, a national holiday. Each year there are many festivities sponsored by government and local municipalities. Our neighborhood group decided to celebrate this special day together by taking turns hosting an annual BBQ. We’ve been doing this for about ten years and it has helped to create a sense of family among us. We experienced great joy in planting this little seed of a united world in our local community.

Over the past 2 years we decided it was time to go a step further, to venture beyond our small street and to have a summer Ice Cream Social. We invited the neighbors on the adjacent streets, along with family and friends. We wanted our invitations to be personal and delivered them by hand. It seemed as if the barriers that appeared to be between us came down. We were warmly welcomed and saw how each one wanted to get to know the other better.

In the summer of 2011 more than 60 neighbors participated — young and old alike. Although the invitation was to have ice cream together, it turned into a meal since everyone brought food to share as well. The joy on our street was tangible. We even had a mini orchestra with an accordion player, guitarist and a drummer for the occasion. The group was really international and enjoyed spontaneous singing and dancing. The atmosphere that was built throughout the evening was one of intimate dialogue with people sharing their own personal stories.

Later we reflected on all that has happened over these years and realized the importance of having planted that first small seed of mutual love many years ago. It was a beginning step but today we have a neighborhood where we live in harmony, share good and difficult moments together and neighborhood family news regularly.

We too have been enriched as we discovered the shared values that each person has and how much they want to give in different ways. One example was when one of our neighbors had heard about a family who needed furniture and immediately offered his own dining room set, still in excellent condition. We know that doesn’t happen too often!

We particularly enjoy the moments in our day when we meet each other on the street or in the store and have the joy of seeing each other again, knowing that now we have something that connects us. It’s really true that you only need a small spark of love to begin to create a new community. We feel we are doing our best to build a new city from our own little corner of the world.

Did we continue even in the cold northern winter-time? Indeed, but not with ice-cream. This time we invited some of our families for breakfast in our home. It was a nice way to kick-off the Canadian winter together with the warmth of that special love that has been built among us.