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Sandra Richardson: The many roots of a healthy community

I often marvel at the trees that dot our landscape, branches upon branches creating beautiful towers that line our surroundings. Though if you look underneath, more wonders exist.
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Sandra Richardson from the Victoria Foundation. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

I often marvel at the trees that dot our landscape, branches upon branches creating beautiful towers that line our surroundings. Though if you look underneath, more wonders exist. The network of roots in a tree shows the collective power of working together to help something blossom.

It’s a thought I’ve had recently, as I reflect on what community means to Greater Victoria. A healthy community includes many roots working together to strengthen and grow our community.

The Victoria Foundation recently released Victoria’s 2022 Vital Signs report. This year, we asked: “What does community mean to you?” There were a variety of responses and definitions, showing community can mean many things to many people and that to carry our region forward, we must work together.

At the launch of Vital Signs, we asked participants in the room to share their one-word definitions of community. To nobody’s surprise, there were many definitions, including connection, belonging, home, support and more. It shows that some may find meaning in kindness while others find community through their neighbours.

But to truly thrive, we need to recognize the many definitions of community. While they may differ, there are common issues facing the capital region.

The Victoria Foundation, in partnership with Coast Capital, recently hosted a Vital Conversation — How can we afford to live here? — as part of the South Island Prosperity Partnership’s Rising Economy week. During the conversation, leaders in the community shared their challenges and ideas on how we can address the cost of living in our region. This coincided with a recent announcement from the Community Social Planning Council that the living wage in Greater Victoria is now over $24 an hour, rising by about $4 since last year.

Alongside the cost of living, many sectors contribute to a healthy community, including housing, health and wellness, and arts and culture, among others. But when you look across Greater Victoria, our network of roots is vast. There is a multitude of charitable organizations that work tirelessly to improve the lives of residents. The capital region is also home to some of the most generous individuals across Canada. The 2022 Vital Signs report referenced the median donation for Greater Victoria rising to $500 (2020), well above the national median of $340.

As the year winds down and we reflect on what we’re thankful for, we must continue to support our communities and the organizations that empower them. Whether you choose a gift of securities or an outright gift to a charity of your choice through the Victoria Foundation, you are strengthening the roots of the charitable sector.

Through that, we can ensure that no matter how we define community, we nourish a healthy, inclusive Greater Victoria for all.

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