September/October 2007 Issue
Love Thy Great Canadian Neighbour
By Jennifer Jacoby Smith
Would people enter a contest if they knew they wouldn’t win anything? It sounds more than a little crazy but that’s the concept behind the recent Great Canadian Neighbour Contest sponsored by Winnipeg’s GodTalk radio program.
The contest invited participants to enter by describing what makes their neighbour so great. The great neighbour was then entered into a random draw for a brand-new leather chair.
“You enter the contest and someone else gets the prize,” explained organizer and GodTalk producer David Balzer. “Which is typically not the way contests run.” All participants had to do was fill out an online form. Entrants then had the option of printing off their comments to drop into their neighbour’s mailbox.
“That one step is hugely transformational,” Balzer said. “That simple act could have an immediate impact on communities regardless of who actually got the random draw for a beautiful leather chair.”
One woman entered her great neighbour and then printed off copies for the entire cul-de-sac. The community buzzed with appreciation.
While loving your neighbour is a common Christian concept, relationships with those on our street or in our apartment block often get neglected in the hectic pace of life.
Balzer said: “It’s the craziest thing. I can lean over my fence any day and say ‘Hey thanks for being a great neighbour’ but somehow the contest gave permission for people to do that.”
The contest prizes – leather chairs worth $400 – were donated by a local businessman.
Balzer and his prize team delivered three leather chairs to winners on June 9 – an experience he’ll not soon forget.
“I have this image of driving away from these homes with the two neighbours laughing, sitting in their chairs on the front lawn.”
The contest limited entries to the city of Winnipeg so organizers could personally distribute prizes. Organizers may look at ways of expanding to other parts of Canada for 2008.
GodTalk, a Winnipeg-based radio program, initiates conversations about God every Sunday night on CJOB Winnipeg. The talk show has been around for nine years on the Corus Entertainment radio network.