Always Ask Why

By Kim Zippel –

We humans are an inquisitive species, as anyone who has raised, or spent time with children knows.  Asking why is one way that we gain an understanding of our world, and of the motives of those who impact that world.  My feeling is that we should never stop asking why, and I often bemoan the fact that after the age of two it seems we don’t ask why often enough!  Therefore, as I prepared to launch the Otonabee website, I encouraged those who I shared my project idea with to ask me the why questions that they imagined visitors to this site would have.  That’s why I decided to dedicate this first blog post to answering potential why queries, right off the mark, so that the motivation behind creation of this sight is clear.  So here it goes…

Why do I think our community needs a website?  The quick answer is to connect our southend neighbourhoods through use of an interactive tool, which in this case is a map embedded within a website.  Once connected, the site is designed to be a forum for the communication between neighbourhoods needed to enable the collaboration that is essential to crafting our future as a community. 

Sign dedication for Harper Creek on Pinewood Drive.
Otonabee Ward neighbours and community partners combined forces to restore a stream on Pinewood Drive in September, 2014.

I hope this site will provide the necessary tools to help people identify and unite local resources, the ultimate goal being support for local projects that will create improvements we can all enjoy.  Hence the tagline located in the header of this site: Connect, Communicate, Collaborate.

Why use a political boundary?  It’s tough to connect, communicate and collaborate if we don’t have a sense of place.  As often happens within cities, some neighbourhoods develop an independent identity with distinct boundaries such as East City and The Avenues here in Peterborough.  But these defined neighbourhoods are the exception, and it is not surprising that people are confused when the southend of Peterborough is capitalized.  For some it is a compass point rather than an established community while other longtime residents clearly feel connected to, and a part of, the history of the Southend Neighbourhoods.  How many even know that we have a Southend Community Neighbourhood Association?  

Map of Otonabee Ward
Otonabee Ward Map as seen on the home page of the Otonabee Ward Community Action Network website.

Last year, when chatting with folks living in Otonabee Ward, I became aware of the muddle surrounding perceptions of where the southend actually begins and ends.  Many were surprised to learn that Otonabee Ward includes neighbourhoods west of the Parkway and north of Lansdowne.  So in answer to the question, why use a political boundary for this website, fact is, the only clearly established geographical boundaries for our city also happen to be our ward political boundaries.  That is why I chose Otonabee Ward to define the southend.

The other major benefit to identifying as a ward is directly related to the dispensing of tax dollars for 2016 capital projects in each of the five wards of Peterborough.  City Hall intends to provide every ward with $20,000, encouraging citizens of the wards themselves to weigh in as to which capital projects should be tackled.  This exciting, proactive program called participatory budgeting will require neighbourhoods within each ward to work together to prioritize projects.  Identifying and connecting Otonabee Ward neighbourhoods will be particularly important in light of this trial process.  For more information on participatory budgeting, please read our next post by Cheryl Lyon called: What If You Had $20,000 to Spend on Your Neighbourhood… 

And finally: Why did I take this on?  Some readers of this post may be aware that I ran for the position of councillor for Otonabee Ward in the 2014 municipal election.  I lost.  Although I was defeated in the election, I did win a lot of insight into my community thanks to the thousands of conversations I was privileged to have at the door.  Having solicited the ward for opinions, I don’t want to loose a years worth of local knowledge.  I want to put that knowledge to good use, and that’s about as political as it gets.  

I also came out of the election with a tangible asset: a website.  For the people who contributed to the campaign, it would have been a disservice to them to let the site lie dormant.  So the now repurposed campaign website is being relaunched as a forum for community engagement, the election site being buried with some blackbox technology – thanks to Blackcap Design – within the new site,

So there it is.  Some of the why questions answered.  I really hope that you will continue to ask more questions on a diversity of topics that impact our community.  Keep asking why and don’t stop until you have a satisfactory answer.  Your questioning attitude will help build the future of Otonabee Ward.

I look forward to your feedback, and to that end, comments will always be enabled on this site.  

Please don’t forget to help us build the community map on the homepage by creating a marker for your favourite spot.

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