There is just so much to say! First of all, in just under one month, we'll be on the road, starting in Edmonton and then driving to Vancouver, BC and then across the country until we arrive home to glorious Nova Scotia! And this is what I've learned about planning a cross-Canada tour in search of 150 families who are interested in moving to Lunenburg County:
1- Canadians will surprise you by how welcoming they are
People don't know me, but that hasn't stopped them from inviting me into their homes. Our teams been invited to dinner, to park our camper on their properties, to hike, talk and share with people; some are from Lunenburg County and want to reminisce; others dream of one day moving here; and some have barely heard of Lunenburg County. It doesn't matter. I can't wait to meet them all and share all the possibilities available here.
2- It's delightful how few naysayers there are
Our 60-second video produced by FPS and Communications Nova Scotia is at 17,000 views and growing, and has received over 200 glorious shares. Last count there were 2- negative comments! So instead of focusing on those who don't 'get it', I'll focus on those who do. I'm not focusing on those. I'm focusing on those folks who challenged the thinking of those naysayers. You guys... you know who you are...you're awesome!
3- Canada is HUGE!
We are spending 36-days driving across Canada, stopping in many towns, cities and communities along the way, and still, we can't get to every community on our wish list. Our country is just too big. We hope we can get to your community, but if not, tell what we've missed. Learn about our route here.
4- We all need people.
Yes, we needed funding (and still do). But even more than that, we've needed people, partners, and supporters for this initiative. We have Andrew Button joining us - I'd argue that we couldn't ask for a better ambassador for our community. We have Mayor, David Mitchell, going us as well! Our team members, Elspeth Maclean-Wile and Lynn Hennigar will be coming for a few stops as well. Lynn Hennigar has been an incredible help in fundraising and planning. I couldn't do it without her! Heather-MacKenzie Carey is my logistics person, and to say there are things I really didn't think about until she told me I needed to, is an understatement. Her expertise in emergency management is quite evident with the emergency preparedness kit that she created. Our videographers, Ben and his friend and colleague, Jess are going to be amazing and have inspired me so much already. Thank you Al Macmillan. I'm quite certain we'll be like family after this (Ben is his grandson:). Then there are those folks who don't even know their value to this project. Folks such as Glenn Durham who met with me so many months ago for coffee. He wasn't so sure about me. But his eyes lit up a little as I unveiled our plan. And a man who is no longer with us- Mayor Joe Feeney- someone who would have joined me on the tour because that's just the type of man he was. I'll miss him, but I will have a scotch in his honour! The entire NOW Lunenburg County team has been incredible. Thanks Elspeth, Mike, Paul, Wayne, Lynn, Tim, and Heather.
5- Our Corporate sponsors and donors are the best!
In case you didn't know this - we are 100% funded by corporate sponsors, small business, foundations, regular people like you and me.
BMO Wealth Management- Not only are they putting their "money where their mouth is", proving just how much they believe in our community, but I'll be meeting up with Michelle Crouse, *title*, while she's on vacation! That's commitment! We need more members of our corporate community to take a chance on initiatives like this; especially as grants decline and bureaucracy grows. You can't miss BMO's beautiful new building on Aberdeen, right beside the Medical Arts building in Bridgewater. I'll be using my BMO bank card throughout my journey! I encourage you to get one for yourself. They're so pretty!
Advocate Media- Full disclosure, I used to work for this company, but that's irrelevant. They're awesome! When I need something they're ready to help even when I need it today. Post cards, Banners, business cards, posters, you name it, they've printed it for me, quickly, accurately, and without any fuss.
Petro- Canada- THIS IS HUGE! This company has given me $5,000 in gas cards! Can you believe it! Not only will that get us across the country, but it will keep us fuelled with water, bananas, coffee, cheese, grapes, car wash and the occasional Wonder Bar!
Mosher Motors - Mosher Motors saw the value in supporting our tour right away. They didn't hesitate to jump on board, providing us with Ford Escape, a red one for Canada's 150th. Clever right!! This car has loads of plugs, cupholders, legroom, special mirrors that will help us see everything- all the things that are important to us! I'm already sold, I want this car!
Don't ask me about mileage, horsepower or anything like that, because that isn't important to me, but if it's important to you, please contact Mosher Motors! Tell them I sent you.
LCCF and CFNS- Without a doubt, we couldn't do this without the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia. Because of them, we're able to offer a tax receipt when you make a donation. And the Lunenburg County Community Fund has funded...well...me... as well as other community initiatives such as two Vital Signs reports and they facilitated a 1-million dollar contribution to the Lahave River clean-up project.
Michelin- It was really important for me to drive across the country on Michelin tires. They're our largest employer and good corporate citizens. After all, folks in my community made those tires! I want to be able to tell everyone I meet that we make tires, airplane parts, cranberries, beer, wine, pottery, music, and more! Michelin gave me 4-tires plus a spare for the Escape and 2-tiny little tires for our adorable camper!
And many, many others -
Bridgewater Mall- they allowed us to have our camper parked there for months, which was awesome because it kept our camper indoors during the winter and allowed many in the community to see it!
Amos Wood- they gave up the most incredible, beautiful table for our camper! It's more like art! It's stunning!
Robar Countertops- I had a problem: a weird space needed a countertop where we'd be able to work from but also turn back into a bunk. They delivered- and gave it to us for free!! I love these guys!
Saltbox Brewing Company- Not only have they donated, but they'll be giving me beer for my trip- not for me- but for folks I meet who might want a little taste of home! I love this beer by the way. Nun On The Run is my fav!
Curriculum Plus Publishing- Do you have a friend who makes you feel like he's genuinely rooting for you? That friend for me is John Merchant. We're so lucky that he has moved to Mahone Bay and come into our lives- not just because he donated to our project, but because he'e an awesome community member and volunteer. The Mahone Bay Centre is hosting a concert this weekend that John helped organize, the proceeds will be coming to the tour to bring more people, more artists and musicians for us all to enjoy! You can learn more about the concert by clicking here.
Plus there have been many, many donors who they'll be thanked personally! You too can donate here to receive a tax receipt, and here if you wish to be rewarded. I'll be recognizing you all in a fun and unique way post-tour!
AND NOW I NEED YOUR HELP!
If you have a business and need people, or want to sell, I need to hear from you! I've already heard from folks who want to move here, some who want to buy a business, and we need to share with them all the opportunities.
Please call me at 902-523-5725 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please follow the journey and share with all your friends.
In just under 2-months, NOW Lunenburg County will be on the road, leaving for our cross-Canada tour, promoting the lifestyle available in Lunenburg County. To say it’s been a delicate dance, with many balls constantly in the air to organize this trip, would be an understatement. But it’s been fun! Incredibly fun! I’m having the time of my life and I’d like to share why:
This place, Lunenburg County, has over-delivered when it comes to being supportive. With donations to our Go Fund Me Campaign, with emails and random calls to say, “Good luck!”; and with suggestions of where I should go and who I should see. I have been moved by this project. A few times, moved to tears.
I shed a few tears reading the email from Greg in Toronto. Greg shared with me his urgent need to move to Lunenburg as his mother's dying wish as he battles cancer. He said he doesn’t need to make a fortune. Compared to the absurdly expensive city where he lives, a humble living would be fine so long as he is with his family. I want to meet Greg and I want to meet his mother. And I will bring them something from Lunenburg to hold them over until they do eventually move here.
I shed a tear with I spoke with Ashley who lives in Alberta. For Ashley, it’s too late to move home to be with her parents. They passed away, which expedited her need to move back. Her stressful job in the oil fields isn’t worth it, she said. “It might not be easy. I might have to work two jobs in Lunenburg County,” she said. “But it’s not easy here. Whoever says the money is easy in Alberta hasn’t done it as long as I have.”
And then there are the dozens of people who just want to see someone from home; to reminisce over Risser's Beach and bonfires on Fancy’s Lake, the smells of Ross Farm and the sea salt air. “Could you bring me some Maplewood Maple Syrup?” asked someone. And I will, I reassure them. But I will stop short of bringing some Adam’s and Knuckle scallops along with me, as was requested from Mike in Sudbury. That would make the trip just a little too uncomfortable after a few days in the hot sun.
I’ve learned from this trip that when you do something a little audacious, something that might bring a little smile to someone's face, you’ll get rewarded. And I have been. Likewise, I’ve had my share of critics. Not every thing is for every one. Even things like democracy have taken a hit lately. So I’ve learned to ignore them. That’s taken practice, but I’m getting better.
As this trip comes closer our objective becomes more clear. In life, we need people. When someone dies, it’s the people around us that get us through it. When we’re happy it’s those people around us that we celebrate with. When we need help we call on the people around us to lend a hand. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I have too many people to help me, to love me, celebrate with me, to volunteer with me, we have too many start-ups, too many talented people, too many students, or too many customers. So I’m going to looking for more people. And I’m not going to make any excuses about it. I heard from a local business who got zero (0) applications for their recent job posting. I hope to bring applicants. I don’t think they care if they’re from here or elsewhere.
Many corporate sponsors have stepped up to help! Bank of Montreal- Wealth Management was the first to come on board, followed by Advocate Media. We are so lucky to be driving a reliable Ford from Ford Moshers! We're driving on tires from Michelin, powered from gas from Petro-Canada. and we have others such as Salt Box Brewery, Bridgewater Metal Industries Limited, and Curriculum Plus. And some of your neighbours, too, have donated to our effort on our Go Fund Me page, and have donated directly to our effort through the Community Foundations of Nova Scotia to the Lunenburg County Community Fund, enabling them to receive a tax-receipt.
And then we have community groups such as the Mahone Bay Centre who are hosting a concert, Prairie Sea, and the proceeds go to our initiative. How generous! They recognize our goal of bringing new members, new audiences, new artists and center users and they're supporting us. We're so grateful!
And so, I’m looking for interesting stories to tell as I embark on this journey. Stories of people who’ve moved away, who might be looking to move back, but not necessarily. I want to know why they left and why they want to move back. I want to share with them the jobs we have available while being honest about those we don’t. I want to share our affordable real estate, but also be clear that our gas- not so affordable. Lunenburg County might be for some people, and not for others. That hasn’t changed.
So I ask the community for your continued support; to share this project with your friends; to follow it on social media, to like our page. If you’re on vacation during Canada’s 150th, I want to know where, and maybe we could meet up! If you’d like to donate to endeavor with a donation or with your time, you can join me on the road!
Edmonton, Alberta, July 20th
Jasper, Alberta July 21-22
Kamloops, BC July 22-23
Whistler, BC July 23
Vancouver, BC July 23-26
Chilliwack, BC- July 27
Kelowna, BC, July 27
Banff, Alberta, July 28
Calgary, Alberta, July 29-July 31
Medicine Hatt, Alberta, August 1-2
Moose Jaw, Sask- 3-4
Regina, Sask, August 4-5
Brandon, Manitoba- August -7
Winnipeg, Manitoba- August 8-10
Thunder Bay- August 11
Saute St Marie- August 13
Sudbury- August 14
North Bay- August 16
Orillia August 17
Burl’s Creek- August 18-20
Barrie August 20
Guelph- August 21
Kitchener- August 22
Stratford- August 23
St Mary’s August 24
Toronto- August- 25
Burlington- August- 26
Peterborough- August 27
Ottawa- August 28
Mount Tremblant- Sept 1
New Brunswick- Sept 2
Home Sept 3rd
It’s been a month since we officially launched our project; to tour the country in celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday in search of 150 families to consider creating a life they love in Lunenburg County! The launch was held in the Bridgewater Mall; a perfect location because we've had a lot of interested people walk by, see the camper and even reach out wanting to learn more.
On hand were some of our Lunenburg County Illuminators, as well as people who had a hand in creating the camper, our loyal core team members and our valuable sponsors! We officially announced that the Bank of Montreal Wealth Management and Advocate Media would be our sponsors with more to announce in the coming weeks. It was a great day. There was lots of positivity, validation and enthusiasm.
A young and entrepreneurial group of high school students were there too, to promote their new project; Discounty. This is a card where shoppers get rewarded with discounts for shopping locally. They sold their cards at the event, and if you don't yet have one, I encourage you have a look! It's a great project and local benefits for everyone!
People so willingly and freely gave their advice as to where we ought to go on our tour. “You have to go to the Prairies,” we heard. “Make sure you go to Toronto,” someone else said. “Our housing costs are affordable compared to theirs." And all of the feedback was valuable and will be considered. We want to reach a vast and varied audience; people who live in both rural and urban centres. That means going to towns and villages we well as a few cities.
Some of our most creative residents in Lunenburg County have come to us from cities after sitting in traffic for hours a day, deciding that there were better ways to get to work- that instead of staring at the back of the car in front of them, inhaling their exhaust, that they could instead view the LaHave River, the harbour in Mahone Bay or Lunenburg’s iconic seascape. We want folks coming from cities just as much as we do from smaller communities of similar size to Lunenburg County.
We also heard about what we needed to share while on tour. “Tell people how close we are to international travel,” we heard. “We’re not at the end of the earth like some might believe.” “Tell people about our beaches, and don’t leave out our beautiful nature,” said someone else. “People would die to have access to our forests.” And so I will. I will share with everyone all of our natural resources. And one of our best resources is our people!
And speaking of our people, the Kiwanis Club reached out to me, asking me to speak to their group about the tour. I joined about a dozen people for breakfast and shared our plan and they shared too. They gave me great advice about things I should take on my tour and places I needed to go, some places included towns where their own grown children reside with their families.
And then they gave us a donation for the tour! “It might only be enough for a few lunches and coffees,” they laughed, but it all helps! Every dollar will help us in our attempt to promote Lunenburg County and bring more people here. So the small donations are equally as valuable as the large sponsorships. Thank you, Kiwanis, for not only your donation, but for all the work you do to help make this community so amazing!!
If you belong to or happen to know of a group who wants to learn about this project, please call me at 902-523-5725 and we can chat, I can tell them more about our project and they can tell me more about their group which I'll be sure to share on the tour.
And you too can donate to the project by going to our crowd funding page. We'd be so grateful, and even send you rewards!
NOW Lunenburg County is going to travel the country this summer, with its bright yellow camper, encouraging people to create a Life they Love in Lunenburg County!
There is a lot of excitement and people have been asking us lots of questions, such as: Where will you be going? What will you be doing? Why will people care? Will people really move here because you’ve given them a little taste of Lunenburg County?
If you’re asking these or other questions, than you need to come to our unveiling party on Valentine’s Day, at the Bridgewater Mall! Join us for cake, tea and coffee and learn more about the tour. We’ll unveil our cross Canada route, explain why we chose the locations we did and what we’re going to do to motivate and intrigue people to move to Lunenburg County.
The idea of touring the country in an effort to inform people about our little piece of paradise didn’t just come out of the air. It was hatched after talking to dozens of employers and newcomers. Employers told us they needed people. Newcomers told us that people in their home towns have never heard of Lunenburg County. They also told us that after moving here, they were able to afford to buy a home, that they feel safe walking the streets and being themselves, that the life they live here is far beyond what they ever expected was possible!
We heard from many newcomers who said that things like watching competitive hockey, taking a writers workshop, and owning a home with some acreage, are all things that people from here might take for granted, but that in some parts of Canada, are just too costly.
We can't do this alone! We want you to be involved and engaged in our tour! Who knows you might meet your future neighbours. We need you to be champions and embrace new people by welcoming them to our community.
Please join us on February 14th from 1:00pm - 2:30 pm at the Bridgewater Mall.Or Follow us on social media via our Facebook page.
I get asked all the time, "What is your job?", and I say, "To grow the population of Lunenburg County." To that they say sarcastically,"Well, that sounds easy enough."
The truth is, the reality of the work involved in growing the population keeps me up at night. It's complex, so tricky and challenging that I'm constantly thinking, not just about my job, but about the jobs I have nothing to do with. Things such as immigration, municipal bylaws, water treatment and the condition of our highways. All of the things that help determine whether people move here or not. So as daunting as my job might be, my success also hinges on whether or not a lot of other people do theirs.
Just for fun, here's some insight into what my job is all about. My job is unique, it's unlike anything I've ever heard of - or even seen anywhere else. The uncertainty and my ability to build my path as I walk it is actually quite fun and right up my alley, but it's not without its own peaks and valleys.
A typical day might look like this: After perking a coffee I head straight for my email. And interestingly enough, every single day, there is an email from at least one newcomer, an inquiry from someone trying to move here, or someone who lives away and wants to bring their family here. They want to know what options they have, what jobs are available, what housing opportunities there are, what school their kids might go to, what dance clubs there are and if we have a competitive hockey league. Not just for kids, but for grown men and women. Anything you can think of, and sometimes stuff you've never thought about, they want to know.
And we get to work. I learn about their life, where ever it is they're from. Currently I am working with a couple from Ohio who've just bought a home in Petite Riviere, a lady from California who wants to move to Lunenburg. And a family from Peterbrough. They've all decided to move here and are now contemplating all the logistics of how to make that happen. One family has a special needs child so they want to make sure that all his needs will be met here. It really makes you hard look at our community through different lenses, in this case of accessibility. I'm learning so much!
And then there is my lovely new friend Pam. Pam from England. She moved to Wolfville initially, but then once she experienced Lunenburg, she wanted to move there straight away ( I talk like her after we've had a conversation). She called me to help her find an apartment and a job. Knowing people helps. I made some contacts to try and help her find a suitable rental space, while keeping an eye out on jobs that might suit her skills. Ultimately she found her own lovely place. She's a long way from home, and that cannot be easy. I want to help Pam settle in here. I'd like her to create a life she loves here and stay here forever. Plus she volunteers, she bakes and she's hilarious! A community can always use more of that. An English accent never hurts either.
Aside from helping people create a life they love in Lunenburg County, I scour the internet looking to share stories about Lunenburg County; stories that I will share on our Facebook Page that embody how welcoming we are as a community. There is no shortage of those.
Then I look for stories around the country and beyond; communities we can learn from and communities who can learn from us, and that is what is helping us build our Canadian Tour. We're touring Canada, promoting Lunenburg County as an incredible place where anyone can create a life they love. Some of these other communities might need a little hope or lack the opportunities that we have in spades! I'm learning about them by reading stories on the internet. But some of those stories, I also read in my inbox.
People who've read about the tour are sending me emails and asking me to come to them; they want to learn about Lunenburg County and what we have to offer. I've heard from a young family who worries that they've got no other option but to give Alberta another try, even though their first attempt was unsuccessful. "The money's good, but there is no balance and we have a young family," the new mom lamented to me about the fear of leaving Atlantic Canada once again.
But perhaps the best part of this job, and trying to grow the population of Lunenburg County, is hearing all the stories of people who've moved here, their challenges, successes and why they love it. These newcomers have great ideas on how we should spread the word about our community. If you're one of those people, I'd love to talk to you. If you've simply got a great idea or want to chat I want to talk to you too! Nothing's off limits. Nothing's too crazy. So please, connect with me. Reach out. We're all in this together!