Why Bowness is My Bowness - Ben's Story
Benjamin Kaczmarek lived in Ontario, then Kelowna, before moving to Bowness with his then girlfriend in December 2016. He planned on settling down in the community, however his partner had other plans. He was left with the house and spent 6 months trying to decide what he wanted to do and whether or not he would stay in Bowness.
“So I was stuck with the house at that time, and at that moment it felt pretty rough, so I took the 6 months living in the home, figuring out what I was gonna do, if i was gonna stay in it, if I was gonna sell it, cause I didn’t really know anyone. That’s kind of tough, when you don’t know anyone, new city, and you’re only point of contact was your partner at the time,” says Kaczmarek.
In April and May of 2017, he decided to stay and make the most of a poor situation. He joined Calgary Chamber of Commerce and started talking to neighbours. He would go door-to-door and introduce himself to the people on Bow Crescent where he lived.
One of his neighbours was Doctor Shallick’s house, and his wife answered the door. Kaczmarek introduced himself to her, and explained how he was new to the neighbourhood and looking to get to know his neighbours and the people in Bowness. The next evening, Doctor Shallick came to his house and gave him quite the scare.
“The following day, I got a knock at the door and there’s a gentleman in jeans and a cowboy hat, and says, ‘Hi I’m looking for Mr. Kaczmarek’ and I’m like ya that’s me! And he says, ‘I see you met my wife yesterday, and she told me there was a young handsome gentleman at the door trying to steal her away, so I wanted to see what the neighbourhood competition was all about,’” explains Kaczmarek.
Doctor Shallick ended up just playing with him, and he says at that moment was when he started to feel that Bowness was home. He has stayed in the community for three years since, and it is the friendships, people and community that have kept him. He explains how a place is just a place, and although the area is pretty and has blue skies, the people he has connected with in Bowness have kept him from leaving.
He joined Yoga in Bowness when it was still located behind Hexters and has made most of his connections that way. That was also what led him to the Bowness Community Association and becoming a board member.
After practicing yoga two to three times a week almost every week all year, Kaczmarek’s body was starting to hurt. He went to Elan Family Wellness about a massage and began talking to President of the BCA Scott Hutchison. This was when he first heard of the Bowness Community Association and everything they do for the community of Bowness. Hutchison was encouraging Kaczmarek to get involved with the BCA, as he was a community minded person. He then proceeded to meet with the board and became a member.
“I think it’s made me a little more aware of my own community, I was never involved with an association or a community centre even, like nothing in the two other places I’d lived before. But I’ve always been one to reach out in my own way. Just like with the door knocking, it’s just different. So I guess with the community centre I get to meet those neighbours who aren’t directly adjacent to me but maybe on the other side of the street instead,” says Kaczmarek.
He’s also a huge supporter in politics being people getting involved in something if they want change. He raised the issue of the potholes on Bow Crescent, and encourage that if someone wants it fixed they need to do something about it because someone else may not and then it will never change. This relates to the BCA because if Bownesians want change or want to know what is going on, getting involved in the Community Association is the first way to achieve that.
As for the future of the BCA and the community, Kaczmarek would love to see the arena twinned to better equip the need of the community for more ice time and space. He also wants the BCA to continue to be a beacon for the community and bring like-minded neighbours together, whether that is just allowing socializing and engagement or accessing resources.
A resource he initiated was the naloxone training that was offered at the BCA to the public. His girlfriend is a nurse at Rockyview Hospital and he knows the impact and devastation in all communities of the opioid crisis, so hopes that by offering the resource to the community and public that it can help continue to move the community forward in a positive way.
Kaczmarek’s passions in Bowness include running and biking the trails, and practicing yoga at Yoga in Bowness. He also is very passionate about engaging with the people in Bowness and his neighbours and finding out about what interests them.
When asked why Bowness is his Bowness, Kazmarek answered, “It’s the same thing that brought me here, and that kept me here in the very beginning, continues to keep me here. Knocking on neighbours’ doors and them returning. From me leaving to Ontario, to visit my family for Canada Day, and having a gentleman call me cause he noticed I wasn’t home just to wish me a happy Canada Day. I love that. I had an attempted break in the other night. The cops arrived, and by the time I arrived, there were a couple neighbours outside looking to see if I was ok. It wasn’t the best situation but the neighbours and community response was the warmest I’ve ever received. It was great. I like that. It’s the people. That’s special.”
Written by Arianna Korbett