I have been a Vancouverite since birth and as I have grown, so has the city.
One big trend I’ve been noticing in Vancouver is the growth of individual communities. In the past few years, we’ve seen public community gardens occupy once-abandoned plots of land, cute little coffeeshops and grocery stores pop up in the middle of residential neighbourhoods, public outdoor spaces in downtown and more.
Overall, there seems to be this growing desire in the hearts of Vancouverites to see communal spaces established – spaces that they can embrace as their home outside of home. Venture through Vancouver and you’ll find that communities are forming or have been formed across the city and it is awesome to see.
Yet, why have I heard so many people say that sometimes Vancouver still feels like a lonely place?
This is where Say Hi to A Stranger comes in.
Say Hi to A Stranger is a campaign (or as some may call it, a social movement) in Vancouver that wants to transform culture and promote friendliness and warmth in our city.
Throughout the past few years, Say Hi has held several events and boldly stood on the streets to encourage a habit of initiating interactions with strangers using one simple word – “hi” or “hello.”
Earlier this year, we tried this out for ourselves and joined Say Hi’s “street teams.” We put some of our more dormant social skills to practice and said “hi” or “hello” to complete strangers (e.g. local vendors, people walking by). The experience was awkward and uncomfortable at first, but eventually the interactions got easier and became more natural.
In the end, we left feeling empowered to break out of our shells and talk to people we wouldn’t have even noticed. And guess what, we discovered that most people were quite friendly after all! And you’ll see this in the promo video we shot.
Much like the wonderful growing communities within Vancouver, it’s going to take time to change the culture of our city. But what we love about the Say Hi campaign is that it’s a step in the right direction and it allows every single one us to take ownership and transform this city, “one hello at a time.”