Neighbourhood Houses draws on a five-year study to document and contextualize the neighbourhood house movement in Vancouver. Social disconnection has led many observers to declare that urban communities are weakening and fragmenting. Nonetheless, the local community is where most aspects of everyday life occur, where people establish their homes and pursue their ambitions. It offers a secure haven in an unpredictable, globalized world. Neighbourhood houses are community hubs providing services such as public recreation, child care, health care, and adult literacy classes, bringing urban newcomers and neighbours together. Contributors to this book outline the history of the Vancouver network, its relationship with local government and other organizations in the region, the programs and activities offered, and the experiences of participants. While globalization and migration create fragmented and disconnected societies in modern urban cities, this timely study demonstrates that place-based community organizations can provide an antidote.
Introduction / Sean Lauer and Miu Chung Yan
1 History of Vancouver Neighbourhood Houses and Beyond / Sean Lauer, Miu Chung Yan, and Eleanor Stebner
2 The Eyes and Ears of the Community: Engaging Citizens and Community Advocacy / Oliver Schmidtke
3 Mechanism of Connection: Accessibility and Beyond / Miu Chung Yan
4 Social Infrastructure for Building Community / Sean Lauer
5 Trajectories of Life and Belonging in the Neighbourhood Houses of Metro Vancouver / Pilar Riaño-Alcalá and Erika Ono
6 From Immigrant to Citizen: Life Stories of Transformation / Jenny Francis
7 Limitations and Potentials of Neighbourhood House in Community-Building / Miu Chung Yan and Sean Lauer
Appendix 1: Technical Notes
Appendix 2: Neighbourhood Houses in Metro Vancouver
Miu Chung Yan is a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia and was the principal investigator of a five-year multidisciplinary and mixed-method study of the neighbourhood house movement, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. He is a co-editor, with with Uzo Anucha, Working with Immigrants and Refugees: Issues, Theories, and Approaches for Social Work and Human Service Practice and, with Wes Shera and A Ka Tat Tsang, Social Work in China: A Snapshot of Critical Issues and Emerging Ideas. Sean Lauer is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia. He is a co-author, with Carrie Yodanis, of Getting Married: The Public Nature of Our Private Relationships, an examination of the institutional aspects of contemporary marriage.
Yan and Lauer have assembled a set of passionate essays that dig deep into opportunities for community building offered by the neighbourhood house movement.
The use of multiple authors adds to the authenticity of the work and creates a readable, interesting case study that could certainly be applied to other municipalities in British Columbia and beyond.
~Pamela Show; Vancouver Island University, BC Studies
Yan and Lauer’s Neighbourhood Houses: Building Community in Vancouver provides an important collection of essays reminding us that cities are made up of people with complex needs and desires, but who want to connect and support each other when given an opportunity to feel safe to do so.
~Jennifer Chutter, The British Columbia Review