Entries by Braun Barry

My New Years Resolution

I am making a New Years resolution. I resolve that I will do even more to enable the communities everywhere to be happy communities. I believe this is the most important thing I can do for my grandchildren.

Over the last several months, most of us have come to a new appreciation for the importance of community. It is where we find our belonging, our confidence that others care about us, and our sense of security. I believe we have also learned that we can not take community for granted.

Communities are places composed of individuals with many different backgrounds. They exist because of our communal efforts to build and maintain a culture of coming together that strengthens our social fabric. Whether we are an organizer of community places to gather, or whether we show up in these places, we are contributing to our community’s well being. It is through these kinds of connecting places that we meet new and … Read the rest

The Kindness Warriors and Christmas Thoughts.

I had been thinking about Christmas thoughts I might share when I heard about April.

April lives in Lunenburg, a small rural community in Nova Scotia. She recently immigrated to Canada from the USA, looking for a better place to raise her two children. She was looking for a place where her children could experience the values of connectedness, belonging and caring for each other that comes from a happy community. Six months ago, she chose Lunenburg and settled into the rhythm of the community.

Like every community everywhere, Lunenburg has people living in isolation, citizens needing a little helping hand. She and her two sons made a decision; they became the Kindness Warriors.

As the Kindness Warriors, each month they find a way of bringing a little love to their new community. It might be something for children, or it might be something for pets and other animals.

This Christmas, The Kindness Warriors packaged up 36 little bags of … Read the rest

I Am the People We Have Been Waiting For

Recently, a good friend shared an idea that originates with Edward Snowden.

But first some background.

The phrase “We are the people we have been waiting for” originated in England as a call for change. There is great truth in this phrase. All great change initiates with us common grass root citizens. We have the power to initiate or stop change. The Arab Spring started with ‘We are the people’.  Environmental change happens at the pace that we the people enable our politicians and businesspeople to make. And Black Lives Matter is a movement of ‘We are the people’

But the problem with ‘We are the people’ is we are waiting for the people who are waiting for us. All good initiatives start with someone.  Margaret Mead famously said

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Change starts with someone who brings together a small … Read the rest

Hope for or Hope to? What is the Difference

Hope is incredibly important to us for our wellbeing. Without hope, we are left with despair and with hope we are left with possibility and optimism.

Recently I listened to an interesting idea on two kinds of hope.

They are very different and affect us very differently.

There is ‘hope for something’ and there is ‘hope to something’.

Hope for is a passive kind of hope, a hope where we can sit on our couch and wish for something different. For example, we could hope for the end of Covid tomorrow or we could hope that our community becomes more caring in nature.

Although it is possible that these things could happen, the person hoping is helpless in the outcome and that in itself can bring on a kind of sadness. It is a recognition that the hope is placed in someone else who may or may not fulfill our hopes

Hope to is a more active kind of hope. … Read the rest

Max’s Story

Over the past few months, I have heard many stories of people living in apartments who do not know their neighbours and how sad and isolated that makes people feel.

Recently, Max shared his story with an interesting twist.

Max is an international expert in branding and works from his apartment in a suburb just north of London England. Max had learned about the Happy Community Project through word of mouth and our story resonated strongly with him. He has stepped forward and reached out to us to see if he can help us share our story to a broader audience.

As we were discussing the key elements of the Happy Community Project, something sparked in Max’s mind. We were talking about the importance of people proactively taking action that strengthens their community connectedness, belonging and caring for each other.

Here is Max’s story.

Max lives in a ten unit apartment building in a suburb of London. He lives alone … Read the rest

Social connecting and physical distancing

In these times of Covid, both physical distancing and social mixing are important. We need social interaction for our mental wellbeing. We need masks and physical distancing to prevent the spread of Covid and all its consequences.

So how do we do this? We follow the guidelines given by our public health officials. What they say is if we get closer than 6 feet with people who are not living in our house, wear a mask and wash your hands. Stay away from strangers as much as possible by limiting trips to stores except for essentials.

But they also say that we can gather in small social groups of 5 or 10 depending where you live without wearing masks so long as you keep 6 feet apart.

So have a potluck, or a social gathering and just space yourself out. Better yet, go for a walk in the park. While you are at it, think of including someone who may Read the rest

Remembering Values

As we approach November 11, I have been reflecting on the meaning of this day. I am privileged to be able to call myself a veteran from the Canadian Navy. And what I learned from my time in the navy four decades ago was how important it is to stand up for values.

Without strong uncompromising values, we are soon lost.

“We hang on to our values, even if they seem at times tarnished and worn; even if, as a nation and in our own lives, we have betrayed them more often that we care to remember. What else is there to guide us? Those values are our inheritance, what makes us who we are as a people.” ― Barack Obama, 

We are very privileged here in Canada where people across our long history have stood up with their lives to protect our values for the decency of  human condition, protection of democracy and our right to live in communities … Read the rest

Why Is the Happy Community Project a Success?

We are in an era where hope can be hard to find. Yet hope is essential to our sense of well-being and if we look carefully, we can find it all around us. We can see it every day in the kindness that strangers offer to each other. We can see it when people with strongly different viewpoints can come together and smile for each other in spite of their differences.

At the Happy Community Project, we have a Big Dream.  It offers hope for everyone who wants acceptance, belonging, and caring as part of their daily experience. Our Big Dream has the ambition for the well-being and happiness for all communities where we live. The Happy Community Project Big Dream offers more than hope; it provides the realization that hope can turn into reality.

OUR BIG DREAM:      

We envision a future where communities provide a safe and supportive place for people and their children to know others’ care. They Read the rest

Thanks Giving Thoughts

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, a day for reflection and a day for celebration for all the gifts we have received.

In today’s times of worry, fear and in some places – anger, it is good for the soul to take a moment and look at the other side of the coin.

Personally, I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to make a difference in our world through the Happy Community Project. At last count, we have been able to affect the lives of 30,000 people and probably more for there is always a multiplier effect. I am grateful for the hundreds of individuals who have stepped forward and contributed to the wellbeing and resiliency of their communities. I am grateful for the dozens of peoples who have provided the background support that has made this possible. And I am grateful for the people who are stepping forward today to help us get even better at making … Read the rest

Covid, Community and Education

Covid has disrupted most things in our lives including how we look at education. Most people will agree that an important part of education is sharing the personal relationships with peers, no matter what level of education we are experiencing. This is true from day care through public school to university and into adult education. We learn as much or more from our peers as we do from the instructor at the front, and in the process, develop strong supportive personal bonds with peers.

This of course has been disrupted as we struggle to find the balance between physical distancing and social interaction.

Perhaps this provides us with the opportunity to find new ways of thinking about education. There is an old saying that it takes a community to raise a child. In modern times, we have mostly forgotten about this as we have delegated so many responsibilities to government and private organizations and we have isolated ourselves from the … Read the rest