Sarah Crane will tell you that her Riverdale community is “a great place to live” with its close proximity to downtown and the diversity of its residents. And the trails.
Indeed, walk along the shore of the Yukon River, paralleling Riverdale streets, and you will meet hikers from all over Whitehorse – from all over the world – enjoying this heavenly slice of nature.
But Crane knows there is one more element that needs to be pursued every day: a sense of community.
As the president of the Riverdale Community Association, she sees herself as the “chief corraller of volunteers” that keeps residents engaged.
“We want to be a warm and welcoming and engaging community and a nice place to live,” Crane said. “And a sense of community contributes to that.”
But it is not easy.
“I see other communities, like Takhini or Hillcrest that are smaller, with a great sense of community. Yet a larger community is not as tight… and there are 4,000 people in Riverdale, which is the largest in Whitehorse right now.”
Communication is certainly a key. The association sends out two to four newsletters via email each year. But a Facebook page is becoming more important.
There is one for residents to ask about lost dogs and such; and another for association news.
“We have public meetings, too, when there are pressing issues,” Crane said. “The AGMs get about 40 people coming out.
“Our board is really strong as people come from some pretty interesting professional backgrounds and experiences and that adds a lot.
“We are a pretty well-functioning group; our meetings are pretty sharp and fairly focused.”
This is Crane’s second year with the association. She began her one-year term as president in September.
“I was contacted by a friend who was on the board; she said they were looking for new members and asked if I was interested.
“And I was.
“I have volunteered for many years and volunteered as a basketball coach. But I wanted to volunteer for something that is bigger than my own interests.
“I love basketball, I have always played basketball, and it is something that is fun and easy to be involved in. But this is more about my community and it seemed like something interesting to be involved in.
“It is about the idea of a strong and diverse community that is great to live in and what that means and how that happens.”One way to engage the community, was its “Dragon’s Den” approach to gathering ideas for projects.
“We are proud of that,” Crane said of the initiative from last summer. “We wanted to make sure we spent our money in a useful way.
“People had great ideas on how to make the community great.
“If we can stay focused on working toward the greater good of the community, that is success.”