riverview communityMichael Clague – February 25, 2017.

The redevelopment of the Riverview lands is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a significant statement about community and the values inherent in healthy communities. The proposal for a Riverview Village by the Riverview Village Intentional Community Society is an important example of these values: inclusion, respect, recognition, and contribution in a welcoming, supportive environment.

The Riverview Village idea is to create a community which recognizes and accepts that everyone of us faces challenges to our mental well-being over our life-time. Some much more so than others. In this proposal people living with mental illness and those not facing these conditions will live together as neighbours in active relationship with one another. People who are mentally well will move into Riverview knowing that they will be community-building with those with mental-health challenges. Undertaking neighbourhood projects together, looking out for one another, and the concomitant development in personal relations – these are what building a healthy community is all about.

Inclusion is not just about putting people of diverse backgrounds together in the same physical location. It is about setting up the conditions, expectations and incentives for people to positively engage with one another in mutual learning, in play, in mutual help and in contributing to community life. This is what good local citizenship is all about. As someone who has worked with and learned from people with mental illness, who has experienced family and friends so affected, I can attest to the value of this approach – creating the “common good” in community.

The common good is that which helps all to have a better life. Jean Vanier, 1998 Massey Lectures, Becoming Human.

Michael Clague is a former director of the Carnegie Community Centre, Vancouver and executive director of the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C., among many other things in a varied past. His most recent book is called Staying True, Staying the Course: A Study of Ten Successful Community Service Organizations in British Columbia (1997-2008).