It Starts With “Hello” – Michael Starchuk
RITE Richmond Michael Starchuk - Trustee candidate Richmond BC

It Starts With “Hello” – Michael Starchuk

Four to six nights a week, I walk through my neighbourhood. I have been doing this regularly for the past ten years. Last week, I saw something that really took me by surprise. I told friends about it. I told family members about it. I even told my local grocery store cashier about it. What was this phenomenon, you ask?


Well, I will tell you. It was three boys around 10 years old, one on a bike, one on a skateboard and the other on roller blades, and they were just cruising the neighbourhood happy as can be. They all said, “hello”, as they passed me and I said, “hello”, back.

My Experience

This is what I remember as a kid playing throughout the neighbourhood, my parents content that I was safe because the neighbourhood would look after me. I knew my close neighbours, but I knew the ones on the other side of the street, too. I said hello to people in their yards, and my neighbours would do the same, back. We all looked out for one another because we were a community, and we cared about each others’ well being. Now, I say hello to people as I walk down the street, and all I get back is eyes on the ground and the top of a head. We cannot continue to live like this as a society; we need to stop being scared of people we do not know, and start saying hello!

I currently really only talk to two of my neighbours on a semi-regular basis, and that is only because they are the only ones I ever see out of their houses. I would gladly look out for kids in the neighbourhood to help ensure their safety, but those boys I mentioned were the only three that I have seen out in the past ten years.

I know people live in the neighbourhood. There’s always a warm blue glow of computer screens lighting up windows. My wish is that one day those screens get turned off and people come outside so I can have the pleasure of meeting them, and they meeting me. I am positive that there are great people in this city, which is why I have continued to live here.

Building For A Better Richmond

A thriving neighbourhood is one that is compassionate, caring and understanding of all its members. These characteristics have been lost or buried over recent years. If we cannot have thriving neighbourhoods we will never be able to build a great community, because, let’s face it, this community, like so many others, is going in the wrong direction. People have become disenchanted and disengaged. One day we will start to head on a path to thriving neighbourhoods and a great community. Maybe, just maybe, this can begin with a, “hello”!

Imagine people talking face to face, saying hello to people they don’t “know”, and let’s just imagine that the neighbourhood was not on the endangered species list. People would be comfortable in their homes, walking through their neighbourhood and taking their kids to school, and content that their families are safe.

It All Starts With A “Hello”

Seeing kids playing in the neighbourhood is a start, and I will take it, but we have a long way to go. Just start with a “Hello”.