The Unique Culture of a Neighbourhood Team

The Everton Team at Arbour Trails 

By Kristian Partington

As 14 team members from the Everton neighbourhood at the Village of Arbour Trails work through the most recent module in the Neighbourhood Team Development (NTD) program, a written description of the neighbourhood stands out on a flip chart at the front of room they’ve gathered in.

“Everton is a unique, happy home where living in the moment, loving and laughing occur,” it reads. “Everton comes alive in the hearts of those who care.”

This is the core of NTD – creating a true sense of community among the team members who work together to create that home. That feeling then translates into the relationships the team nurtures with the neighbours they serve each day.

The discussion on this afternoon centres on how best to capitalize on the strengths of each team member to create a more self-directed team, capable of reacting to residents’ needs and choices in the moment. A list of roles and responsibilities is marked upon a page next to the neighbourhood description as Tamara White, one of two neighbourhood coordinators facilitating this session, asks the team members who among them fits into which role.

It seems like a straightforward question, yet the team has a hard time defining specific answers. There is no one person for any given role, they collectively say; everyone is responsible for all roles and they’re all committed to being attentive to the needs of the neighbourhood on any given moment. 

“If I need help, I can go to anybody,” says Lori McIntyre. “We all play different parts on different days and any time somebody is struggling, somebody always steps in.”

As a team, Everton suggests they don’t need to define exactly what “self-directed” means, for it’s already happening. If the leadership team in the village disappeared for a week, they say, things on the neighbourhood would tick along smoothly.

Not every neighbourhood would say the same thing, yet this is the beauty of the development program – it recognizes the unique culture that’s created by team members and residents who work and live together, and builds upon that collective experience.

“We are a team, so that means if the leadership team isn’t here, we’re able to handle ourselves,” says med tech Jonathan Manalastas.

He looks back to the early days, shortly after the village opened last year, and says he’s noticed marked improvements in how the team members respond to each other, which translates positively into the relationships they each form with the residents they serve.