“Demonstrating Resiliency” in the wake of Tragedy

In the wake of the tragic events in April 2020 in which 23 lives were lost, two Nova Scotian communities have come together to honour those whose lives were lost and “demonstrate resiliency” to create a more positive light. The communities of West Colchester and Truro have come together to memorialize the lives that were lost in the horrific events by hosting community events and fundraising to establish a permanent memorial site.

We had the privilege of speaking with Tiffany Ward of Nova Scotia Remembers Legacy Society on Zoom. She told us how the organization of Nova Scotia Remembers Legacy Society was born after the vigil following the tragic events that occurred in April 2020. The focus of Nova Scotia Remembers Legacy Society is to memorialize the 23 lives lost and change how Nova Scotia views West Colchester. Tiffany Ward said it is to “remind us of who we are” in the context of community. Nova Scotia Remembers is helping … Read the rest

Super Sunday, Super Spirit

NFL teams play hard for our communities

Through “Inspire Change,” NFL teams and players are devoting time and money to non-profit organizations tackling change in areas ranging from economic advancement to criminal justice reform. It’s also showcasing how its own players are making a difference, especially when it comes to racial injustice and oppression.

In just two years, Inspire Change has donated US$95 million to over 500 different charities. The goal is to reach US$250 million in donation in its first ten years. A couple of examples of recent grant recipients are The Success for All Foundation, which promotes child literacy, and Gideon’s Promise, which works to defend marginalized communities in the fight for criminal justice.

Inspire Change was first born out of player actions such as kneeling on the field during the American National Anthem to protest racial injustices related to police brutality. Now all 32 NFL teams are actively going into the communities to encourage change.

For example, … Read the rest

Covid Paralysis

I have noticed a strange phenomena when I interact with people these days. There is a side effect to the Covid phenomena – paralysis of initiative.

It’s quite understandable – after all we have a justified fear of Covid, it is in our face several times a day and any new initiative will likely involve other people.

But while we focus on staying safe (keeping our distance from other people and wearing masks), we could also be thinking about how we can bring our community back together again in the coming few months.

We have a grand opportunity here. As we become vaccinated and are allowed to return to social connectedness again, we have the opportunity to redefine what community means. Are we going to go back to the way it was before Covid? Or do we want something different.

Perhaps we can think of our community not just as the place where we live, but the place where we … Read the rest

Sowing Happiness at Wolfville Farmers’ Market

With a global pandemic putting a damper on human activities everywhere, a farmers’ market in the Atlantic Canadian town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia is proof that it’s still possible for communities to thrive during COVID-19. Wolfville Farmers’ Market (WFM) traces its roots back to 1992, when it sprouted up from “just three vendors in a parking lot” according to the market’s website. Under the careful tending of manager Kelly Marie Redcliffe, who began working for WFM two decades ago, it’s blossomed into a fully-fledged economic and social hub that draws in people well beyond its community.

Redcliffe clearly loves her job. She loves how there are “casual conversations and relationships formed”, said Redcliffe. “Every week is different and also the same. There is a mash-up of everything the community has to offer.” The market staff and vendors have been putting more emphasis on WFM2GO – which is an online store in which customers can order products online that would normally … Read the rest

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