When determining how NOW Lunenburg County was going to go about the business of increasing the population, it was clear that step one was talking to those people who have newly settled here. Who better to share with us what we're doing well and not so well when it comes to welcoming new people? There were many themes in these discussions.
One overwhelming theme was that, when people move here, there is no support system in place, or any organization charged with helping them. Finding a beautiful home, finding meaningful work, those weren't difficult at all! But learning that dog owners get together on the beach most Saturday mornings in Petite Riviere; that a live band plays once a month at the Mahone Bay Legion, those are important pieces of information typically learned from locals after living here a while. In order for new folks to create a life they love in Lunenburg County, we need to spread this information far and wide for all to know, especially newcomers.
We were told time and time again that we ought to have some sort of an ambassadors program or a welcoming committee; a group tasked with ensuring that new people are finding what they need here. Perhaps what they need is here but they just can't find it. Or maybe it's not here at all, and that's something we need to investigate further.
We've put together a team of Lunenburg County Illuminators: people who've committed to helping newcomers create a life here. This group is comprised of people from all different walks of life. Some who've lived here all their life, who have their thumb on the pulse of what's happening in Lunenburg County. Others are new to the area and know first hand some of the wants and needs of newcomers. We have young people, retirees, couples, single folks, people with kids and people with dogs.
They came together for a lunch and learn to discuss the Illuminators program and how it will all work, what exactly is involved and what are the expectations. We also wanted them to help build the program. Like all the community gatherings of NOW Lunenburg County, this is not a dictatorship. We collaberated and discussed how to make the program even better. And that's where you come in!
This group of Illuminators is not an elite club where access to it is limited! In fact, not only do we want new members, we need new members. We need you, the general public, to be Illuminators too. Do you have a newly-settled neighbour who is struggling to shovel their driveway? This might be a good opportunity to introduce yourself, give them the name of your snow-plow driver, or give them a hand removing the show. Did their dog run away and now they're feverishly running around the neighbourhood trying to find them? Perhaps you can look too, or post it on the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network Facebook page for them. Are they a family with a hobby farm? Maybe they're not aware of our incredible 4-H Club and would really benefit from learning more about that program. By helping someone else in any one of these small ways, that would make you an Illuminator!
You'll be hearing much more about and from our Illuminators in the months to come. We'll also be posting challenges: ways in which you too can illuminate Lunenburg County. We want to put together a list of 150 different ways you can illuminate Lunenburg County, in honour of Canada's 150th Birthday, and we need more ideas! Please share your thoughts with us. That's just another way that you can shine a light on your community.
In the meantime, here are 5-ways you can illuminate Lunenburg County:
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