When Linda Stromberg and her young family moved to Cloverdale from North Delta, she had no idea what her new community – and city – had to offer.
At first, she gravitated to Langley, which is where her husband worked. Adding confusion, the Langley recreation guide even “came to the door on my block in Cloverdale,” the long-time Surreyite now recalls with a laugh, describing how she shopped there and even used the Langley library system.
It wasn’t until she set out to explore the historic town centre that she realized just how many amenities lay right on her doorstep.
This spring, Stromberg launched the Cloverdale Neighbour Network, a website she hopes will make it easier for residents to swap tips and share information, whether it’s to dish on a new cafe opening up, get the word out about an upcoming school fundraiser, or to broadcast a great recipe that just has to be shared.
She invites people to check it out, and consider contributing ideas or recommendations to the site, which is designed to evolve and grow.
Stromberg hopes the Cloverdale Neighbour Network will allow residents to do more than just chinwag over the proverbial backyard fence.
Calling it an “optimistic experiment in neighbour engagement,” she hopes the site will help connect people and encourage them to become more engaged in their community.
“It’s just a rough shell and the seed of an idea so far, but my hopes are grand,” reads the first blog post. “I want neighbours sharing and working together to build a strong an healthy community despite our busy lives.”
Known for her work as former chair of Surrey’s District Parent Advisory Council, and for adding a strong voice to the ad hoc committee that lobbied for increased capital funding for Surrey schools, Stromberg is an active force in the community – she’s earned accolades as chair of Surrey Libraries, where she’s a passionate advocate for literacy.
She has also been involved with the Cloverdale Community Association.
But she longed for a forum that will make it easier for residents to become informed and involved.
“Given everyone’s super busy lives,” she thought people would find it more convenient to engage online.
There’s a Facebook component, but Stromberg’s main focus is the website, because the platform offers greater control over how content is displayed, and opens up intriguing possibilities like posting surveys on topical, timely issues.
Community groups and associations struggle with identifying to all levels of government how many people they represent, she says.
Surveys, says Stromberg, can help gauge which way local opinion is swaying on a particular issue, from parking to school portables.
“It’s important to have a way to have people engage and to say, I’m with this group,” she says.
In creating the website, she had a specific target in mind. “I was thinking of the people moving in the Clayton area, who are new to the community, and how to let them know what’s available in the community.”
The site lists things to do, along with favourite shops and services, including programs like Block Watch and other resources that will be of interest to the newcomer and long-time Cloverdale resident alike.
It’s not a business opportunity, she stresses. “It’s just meant to be a bulletin board.”
It’s also a forum for ideas and opinions.
She doesn’t yet know if it will be effective, but Stromberg is willing to forge ahead with the experiment.
“People are saying it’s a great idea. I’m still very optimistic that something may come out of this that may help community engagement to work. It really depends on what people do to participate.”
– Find the Cloverdale Neighbour Network online at http://cloverdaleneighbour.wix.com/neighbournetwork, on