The Solution of Loneliness in Long Beach…

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By Scotty Jones

We daily walk by houses, condos, and apartment buildings not ever thinking about who might live there, what their story is, and if they have anyone in their lives that they are close to and share life with.

On Saturday we had our Pumpkin Carving and Chili Party. I drove around with two of my board members to encourage our neighborhood hosts, and to take photos of all the “neighborly goodness” around us.

When we drove up to one neighborhood pumpkin party, there were about 25 neighbors carving and painting pumpkins. The life and energy of the party was contagious. Kids were running around being kids, while the adults hung out, and got to know one another with a bowl of chili in their hands.

I got two meet and talk to a handful of neighbors, but one older woman in particular won over my heart. Her name was Sharon. (Not her real name out of respect.) Sharon told me that she loved being there. She said,”These kids, these are all my kids. I love them so much.” to find out later she had just met them that day.  She then went on to share how she lost her two sons recently, one in a tragic auto accident.

"Its hard especially around the holidays." Sharon explained. "It’s just hard not to have them around. I always expected that they would always be there for me." She continued to tell me that her closest relatives live in Arizona, and that she doesn’t have many people to talk to locally.

"This party is the first time that I have connected with my neighbors. It has been so good for me. I feel like the neighborhood grandmother."

Sharon’s story is a very common one in Long Beach. I have had similar experiences with neighbors in Willmore City, South of Conant, Belmont Shore, and Bixby Knolls. I don’t care if you live in Naples or Houghton Park loneliness is all around us. It is effecting our teenagers, it’s felt by our stay- at-home mom’s and dad’s. It’s silenced our businessmen and women, and most of all it can separate us from our elderly neighbors. It’s real. It’s everywhere.  

We often hear about the problems of crime, and violence in our city. Those unjust issues are the ones we read about on the front page of the paper, or watch on the nightly news. I don’t want to downplay them either.

But…

Loneliness is more subtle. It doesn’t have the platform that crime and violence does, but it is taking a tremendous toll on more neighbors than we can ever imagine.

Picture this: Hundreds, probably thousands of neighbors in Long Beach are alone, disconnected, depressed, and longing to be cared for. They are longing for someone to talk to. They are longing for someone to listen to them, and just be present with them. 

One of the main reasons We Love Long Beach exists is that we want neighbors to know one another, to hear one another’s stories, and to care for each other. This is the kind of community we long to belong to.

It is a place where people like Sharon, all around the city feel like they are connected, and are accepted by their neighbors. It is a place where Sharon, a widow, can heal from her loss, and still be the grandmother she always dreamed to be.

We Love Long Beach is not about free food or a neat Facebook page. We Love Long Beach is about bringing new life and flourishing into our neighborhoods and our city. Where LOVE casts out fear, where neighborhood loneliness is dispelled by welcome and acceptance.

Isn’t this the neighborhood that you want to be connected to?

Don’t you want to be loved and accepted for who you are, warts and all?

We invite you to join ‘with us’ as we attempt to end loneliness in Long Beach one relationship, one block, one neighborhood at a time.

Do you want to get connected or learn more?  Email us : info@welovelb.org

We > Me: The Future of Long Beach, a VISION forward.

 

“A CITY leader is best when people barely know he or she exists, when their work is done, their aim fulfilled, the people will say: we did it ourselves.” ~ Lao Tzu

It is We Love Long Beach’s mission to inspire and equip neighbors to be co-creators & influencers for the GOOD and the FLOURISHING of all Long Beach neighborhoods. We believe that it is not the role of one man or woman to lead our precious city into the future. On the contrary, we believe wholeheartedly "that it takes a neighborhood to raise a child." This is not a dead axiom, but the new foundation for all of our neighborhoods to build NEW COMMUNITY LIFE upon.

Our desire is to encourage thousands of Long Beach neighbors to be co-authors sharing & improvising their AMAZING lived neighborhood stories set around celebrating, generosity, sharing, caring, and most of all LOVE; which begins to overflow our city streets and spreads into our surrounding cities.

This Saturday there are 31 Pumpkin & Chili Parties happening throughout our beautiful city. From North Long Beach to Bluff Park, from El Dorado Park South to Wrigley, neighbors are gathering to celebrate LIFE together. We believe this is a glimpse into the future of Long Beach. A city filled with generous hospitality. A place where every person, no matter economic status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion, all are welcome and belong around the table as NEIGHBORS.

Many citizens in our city are beginning to believe & live with the faith that WE>Me.  Our citizens are beginning to care anew for their beautiful blocks & neighborhoods. They have a hunch that their neighbors have much to offer the community. They have an inkling that their community is filled with ABUNDANCE not scarcity. That WE have enough, and that we are enough.

We are beginning to have faith that every single person and family has innate value, worth and dignity. We are beginning to have faith that every person has gifts, talents, skills, & wisdom to share with their block & neighborhoods.

So what happens when we begin to share our stories, and gifts with our fellow neighbors? What happens when we take off the badge of FEAR & PRIVACY that we often wear on our BLOCKS, and we instead put on a WREATH of trust, care, and LOVE. 

We believe that the future of Long Beach does not end with block safety, but neighborhood flourishing. Where children play outside, and their laughter fills the streets. Where sharing food, drinks, and stories are a part of the basic fabric of the neighborhood. Where the elderly are cared for, and are no longer left isolated by their four walls. Where their stories and experiences are valued and celebrated by their community. This is a taste of neighborhood FLOURISHING. It is what we deep down ache and long for, and some of us don’t even know it.

This is the future of We Love Long Beach. A place for new imaginations to be birthed. A place where creativity and relationships overlap as one. A place where welcome, happiness, unity, and joy cover our hearts as the waters cover the sea.

We invite you to experiment with us as we navigate toward neighborhood FLOURISHING in Long Beach!

  Become a BLOCK host for one of our Citywide events.                       Our next Citywide gathering is a BREAKFAST in February.

***If you want to be a co-creator and co-author of neighborhood FLOURISHING in your neighborhood.

Email info@welovelb.org

A Culture of Neighboring

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 By Scotty Jones

I grew up in the Belmont Shore neighborhood in the 80s. My early childhood was filled with memories of living one block off 2nd Street, and only two blocks from the forever memorable single scoop of 35 cent Thrifty Ice Cream. (Which is now over a $1.00)

One problem I had growing up was I never had an imagination of what it was like to care for and love my next door neighbors. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew some of my neighbors, but it was on a more surface level of Hello! and How’s it going?

Twenty years later, I began asking some WHY questions.

Why don’t WE know our neighbors names, but we know theirs dog’s names?

Why don’t WE invite our neighbors over for dinner or some coffee?

It bothers me that I never had a lens to see a bigger picture of my neighbor’s lives than just someone that lived next to me. As a child my neighbor’s only had value if I needed a cup of sugar or an extra egg.

Our We Love Long Beach neighborly-get-togethers are an excuse to start fresh with our fellow neighbors. They are on-going seasonal opportunities and on-ramps to learn one another’s names, share life stories, enjoy a meal together, and to build a trustworthy community. We desire to create a culture of neighborliness through connected neighbors.

We believe that this is not only a new way forward for us big kids born in the 80s, but we believe that we can begin to instill new values, stories, and memories into our own children’s lives about what it means to be good neighbors that share life together and to care for one another. We call this new way forward Neighborhood Flourishing, and we invite you to join us as we navigate a better way toward citywide neighborliness.

Imagine Neighborhood Book Swaps Popping UP All Around Long Beach!

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(Photo of friends Cindi and Christina)

Two years ago I (Scott) was driving down Cherry around 7th Street, and I noticed a cart full books out of the corner of my eye. My initial question was who was doing this, and why? This was the sort of thing that made me happy.

This is the story of Cindi Young, and her journey to create & expand the AMAZING Long Beach Neighborhood Book Swap.

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In July of 2012 Cindi decided to downsize her enormous and ever-growing personal book collection. Her books were starting to take over her house, so she needed to thin things out a bit. After much contemplation as to where Cindi wanted her beloved books to go, she decided to do the unthinkable and to SHARE them with her neighbors.

She got the idea of swapping within a neighborhood from The Free Box on 4th Street and Cherry along Retro Row. She started swapping books by putting them out on a small table in front of her house. She also attached a sign that asked people to take a book, read it, bring the book or another book back for others to read and then swap for another. It’s that simple.

On August 1, 2012 the book swap was born. Originally, it was called the Cherry Avenue Book Swap. There were no expectations from the outset, Cindi just loved watching people stop by to look at the books.

Soon passersby began to take notice of the swap and book donations started to pour in.  The small table had to quickly be exchanged for a three-tiered rolling baker’s rack just to accommodate the growing inventory. It was around that time Cindi renamed the massive bookapalooza

“The Long Beach Neighborhood Book Swap.”

This book bonanza became an organic community effort. Cindi had no idea what an impact the book swap would have on her neighborhood. Neighbors naturally began to congregate in front of the book swap as if it was the new neighboring watering hole. Cindi got to know many neighbors by name.  They began sharing their life stories with one another, it was beautiful for her to just be a part of it.

Cindi over time started meeting people that shared with her the value the book swap had on their lives. One man explained how he was learning how to read because of the book swap.  A woman shared that she found a book about health at the swap that changed her life. And a college student said she found one of her required books on the swap, which saved her a lot of money that semester.  Stopping by the swap became a part of peoples’ routine. The swap began to take on a life of its own. It was so much bigger than a rack of books. It represented a coming together of neighbors in the name of community spirit, education, and giving back.

Cindi’s vision now is to see book swaps in every neighborhood in Long Beach.

Can you imagine neighbor’s using something as common as used books to create meaningful, even transformative relationships around the entire city?

Cindi added that she would also love to go mobile with the swap. “I want to go into other neighborhoods with a van full of books and share. I would love to start block reading clubs throughout the city. I also want to help others start swaps in their own neighborhoods and blocks.”

The LB Neighborhood Book Swap will supply books to those who are interested in starting a swap in their own neighborhood. They can email Cindi Young here: choneywell@mac.com

The book swap has a new home at 617 Stanley Avenue near 6th and Junipero. Please stop by and take a book.  

***Cindi’s friend Christina is the one that is leading the way on Stanley Ave. Christina and Cindi want to thank you for your continued support and love.

Long Beach Neighborhood Book Swap on Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/LongBeachNeighborhoodBookSwap

Thanks! 

We Love Long Beach

Neighborgood Interview: Meet Tim

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We Love LB’s VISION is to Inspire & Equip Neighbors toward the GOOD & the FLOURISHING of all neighborhoods in Long Beach, Ca.

One way we can seek neighborhood FLOURISHING is by getting to know, learn, & be INSPIRED by our fellow neighbors around us. Our second interview is with our good friend Tim Donnelly. We HOPE you enjoy!

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WLLB: What is your favorite memory about growing up in Long Beach?

Tim: Certainly one of my fondest memories growing up was being able to go to the park (Somerset Park) across the street from my parents house and playing until dark nearly everyday of my young life. I love the diversity of the city and because of it had many life lessons growing up. Through athletics and playing sports I made a lot of friends and because the City is home to such a wide range of people from different backgrounds and ethnicity’s, I was being cultured before I knew it.

WLLB: What neighborhood do you live? How long have you lived there? What do you enjoy about your neighborhood?
TD: I live in Bixby Knolls and have lived here off and on for most of my life. I went to the same schools my father attended 30 years earlier. Though I moved out of Long Beach for college I ended up coming back, like so many other folks from Long Beach. A vast majority of people that live in Long Beach are from Long Beach and are pridefully of the City. This is true for Bixby Knolls and for the City of Long Beach in general. Long Beach natives are prideful of being from Long Beach and it is a pretty special feature that seems to always pull you back!
  

WLLB: What do you do for work, why did you choose your vocation?

TD: I am the co-founder of a full-service experiential/marketing marketing agency. After personally landing a sponsorship deal with Nike is 2003, a unique gig filled with a ton of marketing and promotional work for Nike Soccer: public appearances, performances, campaign ads and promotional videos. It pulled me away from pursuing a playing career, yet created a path for success after I gained invaluable experience through my involvement in endless amounts of marketing initiatives and awareness campaigns. The knowledge and relationships were valued and heavily sought after by brands building marketing initiatives around the sport of soccer in the United States. After year’s of contract work as a soccer-specialist I decided to launch ACF, Inc in 2009. 
  

WLLB: Why do you think it is important to know and care about your neighbors?

TD: The better the relationships you have with you neighbors the more you can benefit from living in a location. From feeling safer to having richer daily experiences, having strong relationships with your neighbors makes your “home” that much more satisfying. 

WLLB: Do you take pride in living in Long Beach? Why or why not?

TD: Yes! It was instilled in me by my Father. Again, it is special to have roots in a City and then have pride in helping it grow and prosper.

WLLB: Do you have any gifts, skills, and talents that you could share with the neighborhood? If so what might some of them be?

TD:The slogan for my company is “we create experiences that build meaningful relationships” and alot of our work revolves around live events. I am obviously focused on growing an annual youth futsal tournament at the moment for the youth in the City but would love to provide my skill sets to help create other events and experiences in the City.

WLLB: What are your hopes or dreams for your neighborhood?

TD:I am very pleased to see the direction Bixby Knolls is headed. I think at large Long Beach is headed in the right direction. As an owner of a small-business in Long Beach I feel like the City should continue to support start-ups and the creative community because it is the perfect fit for Long Beach and there is a ton of potential with this strategy. 

WLLB: What is your favorite place in Long Beach? And Why?

TD:Any park in Long Beach. For me it is where I experienced community as a kid and it was very special to me. I know firsthand how wonderful a good experience at you local park can and SHOULD be. I see the future of the City in the Parks and want to help them both flourish.

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If you know any amazing NEIGHBORS like Tim, then let us know. Maybe they show hospitality to their neighbors, share stuff with their neighbors, care for a sick neighbor, celebrate the neighborhood, or are  just super loving and friendly to their neighbors. We would love to interview them about their incredible neighborgood experience. So please connect us to them.

Interested please email me: scott@welovelb.org or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/welovelongbeach

Good Day, Neighbour!

Having immigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom in 2012, Michael Hamilton and his family didn’t know a soul when they moved into the Highlands community in June of 2013. Several weeks later, they received a visit from a neighbour up the street. She introduced herself as the Block Connector and had dropped by to welcome the Hamiltons to the neighbourhood.

“She had a questionnaire and asked us what our interests were, our hobbies,” says Hamilton in his thick Yorkshire accent. “The visit made us feel welcome and the questionnaire helped us connect to others in the neighbourhood.”

The friendly visit and questionnaire were part of a pilot project, the Abundant Community Initiative, whose goal is to strengthen the social fabric of the neighbourhood. It’s what Howard Lawrence, who was contracted by the city to lead the initiative, calls “building a culture of connections.”

The formula is simple enough. Make your neighbourhood safer, more vibrant and dynamic by getting to know your neighbours.

With support from the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and the City of Edmonton, Lawrence and an army of volunteers set out in January 2013 to take an inventory of who lived in Highlands and, more importantly, what their skills and interests were.

It’s an asset-based approach that taps into what residents can offer in order to build stronger and more sustainable neighbourhoods. 

“People are drawn together when they can participate in an activity that matches their skills, interests and passions,” says Lawrence. “It’s also a shift in thinking away from volunteerism and toward neighbourliness. Why do I shovel my neighbour’s walk? Because I’m a neighbour, not a volunteer. What we’re trying to do is build neighbourliness back into the community.”

Connection is at the heart of The Abundant Community. It starts with Connector Coordinators — residents who already know a lot of people in the neighbourhood make great candidates for coordinators, a role that entails identifying and organizing Block Connectors.  

The job of the Block Connector is to visit every resident on an assigned block to initiate a conversation, using the questionnaire as a guide. That conversation focuses on your vision for your neighbourhood, what activities and interests you have, and what gifts, abilities and experiences you possess. Once all the questionnaires are complete, the Connector Coordinator compiles the data and connects residents who have common interests.

“Sharing gifts and talents is important,” says Lawrence. “People love to share their gifts. We don’t ask ‘what do you need?’ We ask, ‘what can you offer?’ and, in that way, it gives residents the power to shape their neighbourhood.”

In Highlands, several groups have formed as a result, including a lawn bowling group and a new mom’s group, along with soccer and hockey teams.

For Hamilton, it was hockey that helped him bond with the community. He was introduced to the quintessentially Canadian game as a lad growing up in the U.K. “Being Brits, we weren’t very good, but we liked playing,” he says. “It’s great playing here. The guys, we meet every Thursday for a fun game of shinny.” 

When he needed a notary public, he was put in touch with a neighbourhood lawyer who offered his services at no charge. In return, Hamilton, a carpenter by trade, is more than happy to give back to the community by offering his skills.

The model works well in Edmonton because the city already has a basic framework in place in the form of community leagues. The City provides administrative and organizational support and is eager to see the initiative grow.

“We are in phase two of the project and are assessing eight other communities, including Oliver. A whole lot more have expressed interest,” says Lawrence. 

He is optimistic about the role the Abundant Community Initiative can play in shaping and strengthening our neighbourhoods. “It’s a workable structure that, in the end, celebrates strength and diversity. People are more invested in and more emotionally attached to their neighbourhood, which, in turn, makes it safer, stronger and a more inclusive community.”