Before the final Community Building webcast with Ian Hill this past Friday, I mentioned on the chat board that I was planning on hosting a basset birthday batch. This had Ian in stitches.
“That’s pretty hilarious,” he said later on the webcast. “But, hey, community can happen anywhere.”
This really did make me think. It is true, community does happen anywhere. Because let’s face it, even I know that birthday parties for dogs are a little silly. The reason for this bash, like with many others that I’m sure will happen this summer, was that I really just wanted to be surrounded by my people… my peeps… as the cool kids say.
This was undeniably a fabricated way to bring my community together. One of the messages that ACE Communities promotes is that it is ok to dig up a reason to build community. Back in the day we had the barn raisings, quilting bees, and canning circles as ways of bringing people together. Nowadays, we seem to have lost those positive avenues or catalysts for individuals to connect to different types of community.
It was interesting to see what transpired during my basset bash. I had my parents mixing with the ladies from my basset hound rescue group (they brought the basset guests). Our art-world friends hung with my group of tried-and-true neighbours. One of our basset hound foster moms met my neighbour who happened to work at the Calgary Humane Society. They exchanged info and job-hunting tips.
The same foster mom reconnected with one of my husband’s artist friends who happened to have taught her how to make pottery a year before. This pottery teacher is a rather new addition to our street so she was able to formally meet all of the neighbours that she had only ever knew in passing.
Two new moms with similar aged children watched as their kids played with each other’s toys amongst the basset hound chaos. Everyone sang happy birthday when the girls’ cake came out because that’s what you do at a birthday party.
I would say I had 20 people at my shindig from the age of 3 months to 65 – and those were just the people. Six basset hounds, two great danes, and one grandma poodle made up the rest.
One friend volunteered to go shopping for me when I got too busy with other party-related things. One of my neighbours went over to the other’s to help her organize her two young children for the basset party – help that was much appreciated as her husband was away for the weekend.
I even had the young, impressively tattooed guy from across the street knock on my door the following morning with Cleo in tow. A partygoer had forgotten to close the gate and so Cleo went for a morning stroll down the street. Until that point I had never even chatted with this unexpected Good Samaritan but boy was I relieved that he had taken the time to note that we were the house with the crazy bassets.
And who said that basset hounds couldn’t build community?