During the last 18 months, NOW Lunenburg County discussed many aspects of the changes required to ensure a sustainable, economically viable community that can support families and individuals in the future.
At the most recent meeting of a group of people focused on labour issues in our economy, there was a rich, in-depth exchange around the power dynamics that exist within our community. Everyone recognized that power is held by local, provincial and federal governments, institutions like school boards, health boards, unions, churches, business associations, community groups and even individuals. There were plenty of concrete local examples, including discussions around municipal reform, school closures and amalgamation of fire departments, to name just a few.
Many taking part in the discussion offered examples of new ideas and proposals being blocked, sabotaged, undermined or opposed by the traditionally-recognized power brokers in the community. Many in our group expected to have more consideration for new ideas and opportunities that could improve or enhance our lives in Lunenburg County from these leaders.
Our discussion lead further to consider the importance of understanding the power dynamics of a situation where change is desired. If new ideas are to be introduced and old ideas challenged, it is critical to determine who holds the power directly or indirectly and how that can affect the desired outcome. Sometimes working with the “power broker” is the right step; other times it is not. Sometimes the leaders you thought should champion an idea — the obvious choice because of the position they hold — is not the correct choice at all. They may actually get in the way of proposed change. Sometimes it means finding new champions in the community, those who are viewed as not carrying biases and who are passionate and committed to the idea.
We all came to a much clearer appreciation for carefully thinking through this aspect of community change. As NOW Lunenburg County continues to inspire and champion new ideas within our community, we will consider how power dynamics can impact on good ideas and innovative projects.
Core team member, NOW Lunenburg County
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