NOW Lunenburg County is a giant experiment; an experiment in community development and community engagement leading to a better future for Lunenburg County. To date, this experiment brought together people of all ages from across our county to discuss our future. During the last eight months we held 6 events which served to connect people interested in change, highlight projects and initiatives that are addressing some needs or challenges in the community. All conversations were built around the theme of creating a better future for Lunenburg County.
For many, the meetings have connected like-minded people working on projects all intended to improve our community. Others brought ideas and got feedback on how to move those ideas forward; others found people willing to work with them on new initiatives. Most will tell you the conversations were rich and the experience positive. Participants made new connections, learned new things about activities in the Lunenburg County and recognized that there is a need to change based on our current demographic and economic indicators.
A number of new initiatives have started or are in the beginning stages – reimagining local government, a business investment fund for new start-ups, a project to bring the universities to the County (a series of lectures from the Dalhousie Law school started last fall) including finding opportunities for local businesses to benefit from student work experience. High school students who attended NOW 2.0 in October, were inspired to start a project, Lighting the Way, as part of Junior Achievement this winter. More than 15 other projects involving a diversity of issues from teen mental health, to projects like the Chester Health Centre, Ross Farm and the Mash Up Lab were showcased and provided an opportunity to seek feedback on issues, problem-solve with assistance from the larger group, and promote their work. We heard from many that being in a room with others who share an enthusiasm and love of the county and believe they can contribute to creating a better path for the future was rewarding for the time invested.
What do we know NOW is significant and will shape our next steps.
We know that people’s belief in the need for change in our County exists on a wide continuum from not believing any change is necessary, ‘life is good as it is’; to believing we will face a series of crisis in the years ahead with the burden of municipal government, labour force challenges, a growing seniors sector and a crumbling local economy.
There is an appetite for leadership that galvanizes people around creating a better future; leadership that is trusted because it is comes with no agenda other than improving life in our county.
The work is complex; at times frustrating and other times exhilarating.
We have seen a number of interesting ideas floated at NOW Lunenburg County events. Individual community leaders have taken them on, inspired by the feedback, enthusiasm, and support of others. This is exactly what we hoped. We want Lunenburg County to be recognized for innovative ideas and creative approaches. We want to support individuals who are willing to step up and step out.
After 8 months of work we have created an awareness of NOW Lunenburg County, a group committed to creating a better future for Lunenburg County. The reality is we have reached less than 1% of our population through our meetings and special events.
Our evaluation process and our own internal conversations tell us that we have not engaged the broader business community in addressing the need for change. We have scarcely nibbled at the underlying challenges that will continue to plague our local economy.
We believe we must create an activity that will bring clear, well defined focus to the work of change in our local economy. Since Christmas our discussions have focused on what that might look like over the next year. We know that it will initially be targeted at the business community but as it develops it will be essential for all sectors of the community to be involved.
Our future work in 2015 will be around the economy. We believe that focusing our intention and action here will have the greatest positive impact on the county as a whole. Specifically, we need to identify and act on the key issues which are impacting on business development and success. We need to engage influential business leaders who are willing to get involved. We also need to connect with young professionals, potential business owners, the new economy of knowledge workers and progressive entrepreneurs who can all contribute to creating solutions and opportunities.
The path we started down in responding to the Ivany Report took a number of turns over the last year. We will continue to shape that path based on the evaluation report and what we hear and see happening. No one else is going to build a path to a better future other than us, the people that live here. All of us agree we must continue to move ahead …. And we will.
We cannot wait any longer for “someone else to do something”!
Keep up to date with NOW LC events, projects and learnings. This page is updated regularly - come back and check it out!