Neighbourliness and Famliness... Two Qualities that Generate Social Capital

For those of you who have been following this blog over the years you will know that I have had the privilege of living and working all over North America and afforded opportunities to travel internationally.  With this global perspective comes the ability to compare and contrast communities and societies; something that is not lost on me.  As I watch what is unfolding around the world over the past few weeks and, perhaps even the past six months, I am confounded at how human nature and tribalism seems to bring out the extremes of the best and worst in people.

Today my city's Mayor - Naheed Nenshi address the Rotary Club of Calgary.  He welcomed everyone in the traditional languages of the Stoney-Nakoda, Blackfoot and Cree.  His greeting comes at a time when many parts of our world are faced with "The Other" joining their "Tribes."  When votes to "leave" economic and societal unions like the one happening in the UK lead to politicians being assassinated; when the choice of sexual partner is used as the clarion call for mass homicide and the aftermath of bringing together communities from around the world in mourning does not generate change in gun legislation; when we are inundated with horror stories of refugees' plights as they make their way across borders only to find that they are being turned away because of fear and hate... It makes what Mr. Nenshi’s message of welcome and relationships all that more powerful.

This weekend we celebrated Neighbour Day. The coming together of community to build bonds and increase connectivity with one and other.  This day was created in celebration of how Calgarians responded after the Flood of 2013 and reinforces what makes this city unique and sought after as a place to live.  It is what draws me back every time I step away.  For the past several years, I have been living in Calgary and working in Toronto.  There is just “something” about this city – the “Neighbourliness Factor.”  The Neighbourliness Factor is part of a community’s social capital.  It is what ensures the longevity of a neighbourhood and the prosperity of a citizenry. 

When I work with family enterprises setting up their legacies and giving strategies we talk about the “Familiness Factor.” That special something that reinforces why and how their businesses became successful and what draws them all together.  Like the Neighbourliness Factor, Familiness is a bond that creates resiliency, demonstrates trust, and reinforces long-held values.  It is part of the social capital that can be drawn upon in times of joy as well as times of distress. It is also what is celebrated and sometimes admonished when difficult decisions need to be made. 

At the end of the day these two factors – Neighbourliness and Familiness is what strengthens the fabric of our communities and ensures that even in these distressing times we can lean and depend on each other.  For these two factors, and many others, I am grateful to be living  and calling Calgary home.

Where is home to you? How do you see Neighbourliness and Familiness playing out in your social circles?  What would you like to see different?  How will you make it so?

*Photo Credit: City of Calgary, 2016


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family business
City of Calgary
Naheed Nenshi