Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
BY TIM MERRY
I recently found this in my diaries from 13 years ago. The year I moved to Nova Scotia. “The world is not going to get better. The current global chaos is going to increase. The madness we see now will only continue to escalate, I suspect, until we hit a massive ecological crisis. I believe human intervention has gone too far globally to be remedied - the battle is lost. The opposite of despair is not hope for me; the opposite of despair is action. Nova Scotia works for me as a place to begin this new action in my life. It is on the fringes of the madness; what has infected so
much of the world has not really hit Nova Scotia yet. It still has slowness and simplicity in its nature. When a pond unfreezes, it is the edges that melt first. I believe that as the world descends further into chaos, that we will need places which hold good human wisdom and practice.”
It felt a bit strange to read it to be honest. It does feel to me like the chaos has only increased over the last 13 years: the number of ecological disasters, increased economic uncertainty, massive social unrest, the breakdown of trust between citizens and governments, corporate greed running rampant … you don’t
need me to continue the list! That got me to thinking about why Lunenburg County is such a great place to be. In the midst of all this madness we can watch from the edges and make our own decisions. It is like we are part of it but not fully in it all. We are safe. Thank goodness.
More from my diary: ” ... a place where people can get out of the craziness of the
rat race and see the bigger picture, connect to meaning and purpose in life, break the illusion we are being sold daily and re-enter life with a clear insight and compassion.” For me, that then begs the question: what are we going to do with the relatively privileged position of safety in a globally tumultuous time? What opportunity do we have here in Lunenburg County to forge a way of life that is informed by the craziness around us but not driven by it?
There are already some great examples of citizens rising to the occasion right here in Lunenburg County. The tech startup, Woodscamp, for example. They are disrupting the Forestry Sector across Nova Scotia with a model that could have impact in Forestry across North America and Europe. NOW Lunenburg County has launched a strategy to create population growth across our region. What we learn here could have implications for how rural communities everywhere deal with population decline and stalling local economies. The Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance is bringing some of the world’s top classical and jazz artists to us and training performers who will travel the world with the DNA of Lunenburg county in their art. I recently heard of an initiative to bring some of the world’s top executives to Lunenburg County for pivotal strategic retreats. The idea is that the culture of this place and its natural beauty will influence these executives’ ability to be more genuine with each other and make better big picture decisions.
These are just some of the things I am aware of—there is so much more. Individuals, neighbours, who are stepping up to get something done at all levels of scale. All it takes is a simple step, as Mother Teresa said, “do small things with great love”, and “I want my kids to grow up in A place as unpolluted
as possible by all the bullshit in the world” then follow them forward with a next step.
More from the diary:
“I want to be involved in creating the new, set the new patterns, experiment on the edge of human potential. I do not want some hippy commune; it has to be REAL, rooted in the real problems of the world, working together with local community. So much of what is happening in the world leaves people feeling powerless. What would it mean for us to create a place which restored people’s sense of dignity and power? A place that makes visible peoples’ greatness to themselves and their communities.”
It is all very aspirational isn’t it? Maybe even a bit naive? As I read these diaries now I realize that I have had much of my . vision tempered by the reality of trying to get change done in a pretty conservative province. However, I can’t help but find a part of me stirring in response to my younger voice. That, in essence, what I was pointing at here, is true and good. We do have an opportunity here in Lunenburg County that is not afforded to many places. We are small enough and isolated enough to do something audacious. Why not? And why not start here in Lunenburg County? This incredible gem of a place within the bounds of Nova Scotia. We are 47,000 people living and working within the inspiration of outstanding natural beauty. I am surrounded daily by creative artists, entrepreneurial business people, active community leaders and deep spiritual practitioners. We have kids in our schools, we have jobs available in our economy and we have elders actively supporting the next generation. It’s all here. Right now.
I want my kids to grow up in a place as unpolluted as possible by all the bullshit in the world. But not cut off, not a separate little haven, a place which learns through its dealing with the larger world. A place which learns by meeting the madness
and using it as a mirror for its own growth. Learning from the faults of the larger world, to create a different pattern. Today, I am firmly planted in Lunenburg County. I have created a life that’s beginning to reflect the aspirations of my diary. Both my wife Kate and I are able to work from home. Kate, has a thriving accounting business while today, I am working and collaborating with my business partner, Tuesday Ryan-Hart, who is based in Columbus, Ohio. We have clients in Canada, the USA and Europe where we help collaborators and problem-solvers get unstuck with unforgettably pivotal events, capacity-building, and strategy that sparks significant change and moves toward equity. Since I left my parent’s house I have lived many places in the world and had many homes. I have always been happy to pull into the driveway or open the front door and relax. Now though, for the first time since I left my Mum and Dad’s village in the UK, I turn the corner, see the three churches of Mahone Bay, and feel at home in the town, not only the house I pull into a few minutes later.
Tim Merry is an engagement specialist and systems change facilitator who works with organizations from all over the world to lead break through change. For over 20 years Tim has helped major international businesses, government agencies, local communities and regional collaboratives to create the conditions for people to organize together and solve their own problems. This piece originally appeared in the daily newspaper Chronicle Herald and the community newspaper LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin.