Festival Of Neighbourhoods 2020: A Mosaic Of Neighbourhoods

Kitchener’s Festival Of Neighbourhoods concluded its 27th season by connecting neighbours differently for its annual celebration in 2020.  This year, neighbours and City Of Kitchener representatives ‘zoomed’ together on Sunday, November 15th in an interactive online celebration that recognized how neighbourhoods created community connections with health and safety in mind through an unpredictable year.  Neighbours also discussed ways to continue creating connections and imagined what their neighbourhoods will be like as we move into a future of possibility.  

The Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region contributed to the celebration of inclusion across neighbourhoods, and 17 different neighbourhood representatives participated in the online discussion from regions across the City of Kitchener.

A new “Neighbours Exchange” program was part of this year’s Festival Of Neighbourhoods celebration; two neighbours from different areas of the city were matched to take each other on short walking tours of their respective neighbourhoods and their experiences were shared as part of the online gathering.  

The whole group of attendees were then divided into “Breakout Rooms” to discuss:

How did your neighbourhood create connection this year, and what would you need to continue these connections in an unpredictable future? What ideas do you have for the future of your neighbourhood? 

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic dropped in to each breakout session to connect with neighbours.  

A wide range of ideas for future connections were shared;

-use of public golf courses for winter activities such as cross country skiing and tobogganing 

– holiday walking tours, continuing traditional events in ways that are covid-safe, drop-off toy drives and fundraisers for charities

– emphasis on the increased need for outdoor spaces such as parks, ice rinks, and dog runs

– training for seniors, newcomers and anyone on how to operate Zoom to connect safely online

– neighbourhood contests towards environmental sustainability and aims to reduce climate change

– calls to neighbours to check-in and reaching out new neighbours

Video tours from two neighbourhoods were also shared as part of the celebration; and more can be viewed on

Victoria Park, Central Frederick, Schneider Creek, Doon South and Mount Hope Breithaupt Park have been featured and more videos will be posted soon from Huron, King East and Vanier/Kingsdale neighbourhoods.  

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic thanked all the neighbourhood representatives and concluded with “I know by sticking together and working together we’ll all get through this and we’ll be a stronger community coming out the other side.  Hopefully next summer we can enjoy some of our traditional things when a vaccine is in place”.  

The celebration concluded with Door Prizes:

$100 Gift Card for Swanson’s Home Hardware and Building Centre; Central Frederick Neighbourhood Association

$100 Gift Card for Swanson’s Home Hardware and Building Centre;  Schneider Creek Neighbourhood

Red Racoon Bike Rescue, Neighbourhood Bike Tune-Up Clinic; Lakeside Park Neighbourhood

Five Swim Lesson Passes from the City Of Kitchener; Lakeside Park Neighbourhood

Festival of Neighbourhoods is a joint initiative between John MacDonald Architect and the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region with support from the City of Kitchener.  Kitchener’s Festival Of Neighbourhoods looks forward to a new season in 2021 of celebrating and supporting neighbourhood projects and activities. 

Save The Date!

The 2020 Annual Festival Of Neighbourhoods Celebration is coming!

Sunday, November 15th, beginning at 1:00pm

Festival Of Neighbourhoods invites you to share your ideas for a 2020 Celebration happening on Sunday, November 15th that will engage your neighbourhood both on and offline.

Send us your thoughts on how you’d like to participate! You can fill out the online RSVP form at or email with your ideas.

The celebration will recognize all the amazing ways you and your neighbours created community and connections through the past year.

Part of the 2020 Celebration will highlight what your neighbourhoods have been up to since last year with videos and stories collected by our Celebration Planner, Allison Brown.

Allison is searching for:

Photos, videos, posters and other memorabilia from your neighbourhood projects, gatherings and activities from October 1st, 2019 until November 8th, 2020

Neighbours to share stories about how they support front-line workers, how they are helping each other stay connected and cope with isolation, how they are helping keep each other healthy, experiences organizing and participating in community projects, and how they create neighbourhood inclusion 

This can include food drives, nightly pot-banging supporting health care, window and front yard displays, community gardens, art projects, walks and bike rides, socially distanced gatherings, neighbourhood clean-ups, and anything you and your neighbours were up to this year to stay connected both before and during the pandemic.

Get in touch with Allison to feature your neighbourhood for the 2020 Celebration and contribute your ideas about how you’d like to participate –

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!!
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!
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!
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.

Great ways to stay in touch with neighbours

Good Afternoon on this beautiful and sunny day.  Perfect day to enjoy fresh air and a walk or maybe a bike ride while physically distancing (2m or 6ft).  There are lots of great ways to stay in touch with neighbours in a way that responds to Covid-19 and Festival of Neighbourhoods wants to hear and see them.  FON continues to post ideas and pictures to Facebook, Twitter and the website working to keep spirits up. Festival of Neighbourhoods wants to hear and see them. 

We can get through this changing time Together while Separated!!!!  Here are a few more ideas

  • Run errands for groceries and meds, or walk dogs for neighbours who can’t leave their homes
  • Play a musical instrument from your porch, balcony or window for neighbours to enjoy
  • Display your creative projects where others can enjoy it, whether physically on your front yard or windows or on social media.
  • Write messages of encouragement with chalk on the sidewalks.
  • Participate community activities that don’t bring people face-to-face, such as sing-alongs, light shows and community thank-yous to health workers on the front lines of this pandemic from the front door or balcony.

Please register your inclusive but physically distanced activities for our early bird draws and win a $50 gift certificate for a local vendor of your choice.  Next draw is April 30th and registration deadline is April 27th.  Register at

Let’s Physically Distance but Stay Social

There are lots of great ways to physically distance but stay social and connected with your neighbours during this challenging time. Here are some of the ideas we have seen so far that are lifting spirits, entertaining and building relationship.

So what are neighbourhoods doing staying together in social/physical distancing times

  • Neighbourhood window art walks
  • Sidewalk chalk drawings and messages
  • Online dance, exercise and common interest parties
  • Setting a daily time to meet and greet from Doorsteps or Balconies
  • Daily check-ins with neighbours via phone, video conferencing, email 
  • Running errands or helping with outside chores 
  • Bears and Messages in windows
  • Online greeting cards without or with music
  • Information and resource sharing facebook groups such as Caremongering KW