02/02/2013 12:52 EST

'Say Hi Vancouver' Urges Residents To Wear Name Tags


When Shelley Koorbatoff moved to Vancouver two years ago, she didn't think she'd have trouble making friends. Despite her best efforts, she knows few people outside her workplace and doesn't even know her neighbours.

So she started "Say Hi Vancouver," scheduled for Feb. 8 which encourages residents to get to know each other better by wearing name tags.

"If you have a friend walking towards you down the street, you see them and you say hi, but for some reason, if it's a stranger, you feel held back," Koorbatoff explained. "I just wanted to break through those barriers and create an opportunity for people to reach out and be engaged."

Koorbatoff grew up in Grand Forks, B.C. and has lived in Edmonton, Kelowna and Victoria. She said she's seen people have difficulty making friends in numerous cities but Vancouver has proven more difficult than the others.

"I lived in Victoria for 18 years, I have a lot of great friends there, people I'll call up and we'll hang out. I just don't feel like I really have that in Vancouver," she told The Huffington Post B.C. in an interview.

Koorbatoff isn't alone; Vancouver isn't exactly known as the world's friendliest city.

The Vancouver Foundation discovered as much in a survey that found residents are feeling increasingly lonely and more are withdrawing from community life.

Koorbatoff feels that having people wear name tags for just one day will help foster a sense of community.

The plan for the day is still in progress, but Koorbatoff expects to have volunteers handing out name tags around the city. She may not have to hand many out if the early response is any indication.

"I had a lady last week tap me on the shoulder," she says. "She said, 'I noticed you were wearing one of those name tags, where can I get one of those?' I just thought, oh my gosh, that is amazing!"

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