Did you miss the 2021 Celebration?

COVID is changing us

What a year! The Kitchener Festival of Neighbourhoods concluded it 28th season in 2021 by continuing its new tradition of an online zoom celebration. We continued to find interactive ways to engage and connect. We learned a lot in 2020 and built upon our experiences in the pandemic. The Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region acknowledged the adaptations and activities of the Central Frederick Neighbourhood to keep inclusion front and centre and setting a great example for all of us. During distancing, they hosted virtual craft events, delivered all the material to neighbours homes, and made and exibit of all the great work to continue staying in touch, sharing and supporting each other.

We also introduced everyone to The COVID Safe LIVING room which is yet another activity trunk that can be signed out of the F.O.N pantry of possibilities. The LIVING Room was supported by Canada Healthy Communities Initiative. At our celebrations in November we held an on-line LIVING room where we discussed how COVID was changing Us? Kitchener’s Mayor, Berry Verbanovic, offered a candid synthesis of the entire event. With these kinds of ongoing exchanges we can contribute to and increase the quality of life for everyone we share this awesome city with– together.

The neigbourhoods who attended the festival on-line celebration this year received a $50.00 gift certificate to go toward their activities and events The neighbourhoods attending included, Victoria Park, Central Frederick, Schneider Creek, Doon South, Mount Hope Breithaupt Park, Huron, King East, Vanier/Kingsdale, The Bus Station District, Duke and Water Street Downtown Neighbourhood, Auditorium, Lydia Street, A Better Tent City, Williamsburg, Belmont, Westmount, Country Hills, Laurelwood Downtown Kitchener, Cherry Park, Forest Hills, Alpine, North Six, Olde Berlin Towne, The Kitchener Market Area. A total of 25 neighbourhoods!

ABTC and Auditorium Exchange

We took the Neighbourhood Exchange to a new level this year! We set up our own version of a neighbourly speed dating session to encourage participants to become Real Life Exchangers! Exchangers from A Better Tent City and Auditorium made an awesome video that compared the experiences of their neighbourhoods and with each other. It really highlighted our true interconnectedness, despite stark differences in access to basic necessities such as running water, showers, laundry, sewer, etc. Which neighbourhood did you always wanted to visit? Let’s do it together in 2022.

Come Back Bingo

We celebrated our COVID Comeback Bingo Winner from Central Frederick represented by Susan Fulop with a 100.00 gift certificate. As they say, “If you don’t play you can’t win!” We encourage everyone to use Comeback Bingo to kickstart your activities over the winter and into the spring as well. We thoroughly enjoyed the creativity of the Williamsburg Neighbourhood and its Association who shared a video synopsis of their activities which included on-line picture sharing. Totally inspiring!

Comfortably sitting in our living room in a community garden, we asked the neighbours to learn more about each other. They did have fun with our bingo cards. Watch the video! Do you want to try? Download at www.festivalofneighboruhoods.ca and walk around your neighbourhood to get to know more about your neighbours:)

28th Annual Celebration

How is COVID Changing Us?

Festival of Neighbourhoods is back! You are invited to our 28th Annual Celebration Sunday, November 21st at 1-3pm on Zoom! RSVP by November 19th to the Zoom event registration link here.Annual Celebration Poster

Lots of neighbourhood gatherings have become annual occurrences and the pandemic has prevented them from happening in their traditional way. We want to hear how your neighbourhood has adapted gatherings to be safe and inclusive the past year.

Join us in celebrating our diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods. Let’s learn from each other on how we are adapting in this ever changing world. The Festival continues to connect neighbours to share ideas for the future of our neighbourhoods.

In honor of the Festival’s 28th year, the first 28 neighbourhoods to RSVP for the online celebration will receive a $50 certificate to be used for future neighbourhood projects or gatherings. Stay tuned for future updates about this awesome event!

COVID has changed our registration form too!

If your neighbourhood has gathered together this year, whether in person or online, don’t forget to register it. If there were no gatherings, let us know about that change you experienced too!

Share with us by filling out a short COVID-times registration form.

Founded by Architect John MacDonald, the Social Development Centre of Waterloo Region and the City of Kitchener, Festival of Neighbourhoods encourages citizens to plan simple gatherings in their neighbourhoods that are open to everyone and unite neighbours.

COVID Safe Gathering Spaces

Living RoomsBuilding Covid-19  awareness is an ongoing challenge for many neighbourhoods.  Encouraging reflection about how we have adapted and changed to live with our new realities during a global pandemic here in our own neighbourhoods and communities is the purpose of the COVID Safe Pop Up Living Rooms. Social Development Centre has brough together two initiatives the Kitchener’s Festival of Neighbourhoods and Covid Safe Pubilc Spaces to set up a site-specific pop up gatherings for a few hours within neighbourhoods that do not experience safety in many regards. We will practice the evolving COVID safe protocols and everyone can be as confident as possible that they are doing what they can to be protected from transmission, while unpacking deeper levels of what safety means to each of us. 

To learn more about the project or to bring COVID-safe Living Room to your neighbourhood, contact Heather Majaury at heather@waterlooregion.org. 

If you wish to volunteer with the COVID Safe Spaces Project, please fill out this short survey!


2021 FON Program Coordinator Posting

2021 Post Image at Prospect AvenueKitchener’s Festival of Neighbourhoods team is seeking a candidate with experience in community development and community engagement, both face to face and online, to fill the 2021 Program Coordinator position.

Festival of Neighbourhoods was founded in 1994 and has since been a support and a recognition program for Kitchener residents who step off their front porch or front step to bring their neighbours together. Usually, neighbours who organize gatherings on their streets, in parks or buildings, are offered tools, a friendly support team, prizes and incentives to continue creating conditions and connections that counter isolation, build lasting relationships and break prejudice and stereotypes. As neighbours keep getting together, they collectively explore many ways to improve upon the physical infrastructure or the social fabric of their neighbourhoods. 

Inclusivity and equity in the city are a particular focus of the Festival of Neighbourhoods and this year, while still in the pandemic mode, we will be building on everything we learned about challenges and successes of remaining good neighbours to continue connecting virtually and transition to face to face encounters again. As virtual and physical remain inseparable, we are looking for a coordinator who is at ease working in both environments and has applied equity and anti-racism lens in their community work. 

The successful candidate would have experience in:

• Direct engagement across age, ability, income, colour, culture, language, & types of neighbourhoods

• Community-based research & information gathering to design strategies and tools for targeted engagement 

• Promotional material design to mobilize neighbours for effective outreach activities 

• Active engagement through social media of both residents and a range of partners organizations

• Conflict resolution and constructive communication in an intercultural context 

• Organizing conference calls and online events (Zoom & Google Meet)

To accomplish the following tasks:

• Coordination: facilitating team meetings; creation and monitoring of the workplan; tracking neighbourhood gatherings and Festival registrations; updating procedures, contact lists and reference documents; assist in creation of communication articles for the website and E-Neighbour; organize an Annual Celebration.

• Engagement: respond to asks for support by sharing tips and tools with neighbours; active outreach to new communities/neighbourhoods; updating and applying Inclusion Challenge strategies; supporting neighbourhood gatherings; administration of the Early Bird Registration Prizes and Neighbourhood Activity Trunk bookings; regular engagement through social media and online events. 

The position is a part-time limited contract, to approximately 25 hours per week from April to December 2021, with the possibility of renewal. Please submit your resume and a description of your experience and interest in working with neighbourhood-based initiatives, especially within the Festival of Neighbourhoods’ model of outreach and engagement. 

Deadline for applications is midnight on March 26th. Email the selection committee at admin@waterlooregion.org

Sincerely, John MacDonald, John MacDonald Architect and Aleksandra Petrovic, Social Development Centre WR


Join Our Team this Annual Celebration

Festival of Neighbourhoods

seeking a Multimedia Specialist

September 15th to December 18th

15 hours per week at $25 per hour

Kitchener’s Festival of Neighbourhoods team is seeking a candidate with experience in creation of audio/visual promotional material to assist in planning, hosting and disseminating stories about neighbourthood activities and gatherings during the pandemic for the first online Festival of Neighbourhoods 27th Annual Celebration to happen on November 15, 2020.

Festival of Neighoburhoods was founded in 1994 and has been a support and a recognition program
for Kitchener residents who are bringing their neighbours together. Usually, neighbours who organize gatherings on their streets, in the parks or buildings, would come together to share what worked well and how life in their neighoburhoods changed because of the connection made. Inclusivity is of particular interest to the Festival of Neighbourhoods and this year, because of the pandemic, we will
bring the neighbours together online to showcase the joy, the fun and the mutual care that flourished
during the times of distancing.

The job would include supporting the Festival of Neighbourhoods Team in designing the online Annual Celebration and preparing promotional material needed. We would need to gather information, audio interviews and visuals of the COVID activities organized; your keen sense of showcasing the creative, safe and inclusive ways to connect during the pandemic; skilled production of short video and audio clips, visuals and infographics to represent neighbourhood solidarity and vibrancy during distancing.

The successful candidate would need experience in:

creation of audio/visual material,

– research, interviewing and content writing

– promotional material design

– organizing online events, webinars or conference calls

– communication and team building skills

Send you resume and cover letter in one document by midnight of September 4th

Email the selection committee from John  MacDonald Architect and
Social Development Centre Waterloo Region at

Skelzies FON Challenge

This modified version of the classic Brooklyn game Skelzies is perfect for 2-6 players and can be played while physical distancing outside! Grab some chalk, a few small stones, marker lids, or bottle caps and meet your neighbours!!

Grab some chalk and cover your neighbourhood in games like this one!

  1. Create your game board on the ground with chalk, mimicking this picture.
  2. Place a stone at the start line and flick it around the board from 1-13. If you miss then it is the next player’s turn. See who can get to 13 in the least amount of turns.
  3. Remember to stay at least 2m / 6ft apart to keep everyone safe!

Print the poster and invite your neighbours to play!


Let us know what you think!!
Email: entries@festivalofneighbourhoods.ca
Tag us on Facebook: @FONKitchener
Tag us on Twitter: @FONkitchener

Skelzies Challenge

Clean Up COVID Challenge

Bring your neighbours together and brighten your neighbourhood with this community clean up.

Gather as many neighbours as you safely can!
Encourage your neighbours to wear masks, gloves, and bring hand sanitizer
Maintain physical distancing by staying 2 meters / 6 ft apart.
Ask all participants to bring a garbage bag and a reusable bottle of water to stay hydrated!

Enjoy the results and tell us your favourite parts!
Email: entries@festivalofneighbourhoods.ca
Tag us on Facebook: @FONKitchener
Tag us on Twitter: @FONkitchener

Download this poster and feel free to use it for your clean up. Thank you for all you do to build our community!

Neighbourhood Clean Up Challente

FON Covid Challenge

Scavenger Hunt
Building Community While Stopping the Spread

Some communities have put rainbows and teddy bears in their windows and gardens and let the neighbourhood go on a scavenger hunt.

Scavenger Hunt Instructions

  1. Reach out to your neighbours and decide on an item or theme. It could be pictures, drawings, teddy bears, cats and dogs, or whatever else you can imagine.
  2. Have your neighbours place the items somewhere visible to passersby.

Enjoy the results and tell us your favourite parts!
Email: entries@festivalofneighbourhoods.ca
Tag us on Facebook: @FONKitchener
Tag us on Twitter: @FONkitchener

Fon Covid Challenge

Download this poster and spread the word!

Neighbourhood Resiliency in Times of Covid-19

As the Covid-19 restrictions in the province begin to relax, we wonder how the pandemic has affected our community.

While we are being asked to stay close to home, and reduce our exposure, our own neighbourhood is more than ever our centre of gravity. We are not going far for goods, services and recreation; without school or summer camps, our kids are spending more time at home; more are working from home, and have eliminated their daily commutes. Others, have simply lost their jobs. Our cars are spending more time parked in our driveways, and traffic in our streets is quieter. In the present climate of uncertainty, knowing our neighbours, connecting with them and being supportive is more important than ever.

See the May/June E-neighbour in your browser!

Collage May June e-neighbour

To date, many city and neighbourhood gatherings and activities that attract large crowds have been cancelled. We might find that we have been left to our own devices when it comes to making our own fun.

Are we going to discover that this is the year of “My Neighbourhood”?

This summer we might not have the taste to hold face-to-face neighbourhood gatherings, even if we were allowed, but as the weather warms up, we can rev up our creative powers to think up ways to connect with our neighbours while keeping at least 2 metres apart.

These efforts will help build stronger neighbourhoods, from the ground up. Some of our neighbours might feel very vulnerable to Covid-19, or might have to self-isolate, regardless of new relaxed restrictions. Others might be struggling from the impact of isolation, or changes in their lives that have left them feeling lost. Be thoughtful and open to help out if you can.

In Kitchener we have seen people running errands and doing yard work for others, playing music, displaying art work, chalking messages of encouragement on sidewalks, making noise for frontline workers,  using little libraries as pantries. Many have more time in their hands. We are seeing more people going out for walks, beautifully groomed front yards, and neighbours spontaneously spending some time to chat in their walks. Others are pulling out their lawn chairs, as invitations for neighbours to stop by for a few minutes.

All the signs are pointing at the growing importance of your neighbourhood in your life. Make the best of it; make it caring, safe and fun, for yourself, your family and your neighbours.