BY TINA HENNIGAR
I mean no disrespect, and I'm certain that I'll appear very ungrateful, but I think we need to have a conversation about gift giving and our lack of creativity. Let me explain.
NOW Lunenburg County has been asked to speak at several events recently to share our insights and experiences. And we're happy to do it. We feel it's our duty as a grassroots organization to help other grassroots organizations learn from our success, and more importantly, our failures. And aside from being reimbursed for our expenses, we don't get paid for these speaking engagements. Getting a small gift as a token of thanks for the time and effort that it takes to put together a presentation and to be present and engaged, while nice, isn't entirely necessary. But I get it. It might feel weird, awkward even, to not give anything.
Recently, we presented at the Healthy Communities conference hosted by the department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. I wrote recently that the event was positive and participating felt very worthwhile. I learned a lot, even as a presenter, so it was time very well spent. Receiving a gift was entirely unnecessary, but even still, as I walked to my car, I was eager to open it. Secretly I was hoping it might be the plan for how communities can apply for the $200,000 of funding that the Liberal Government announced to assist communities in attracting doctors, instead of having to wait the usual months for the criteria and application process to be released.
I opened a beautiful, stunning Nova Scotia Crystal bowl. It's gorgeous. I'm so thankful that our province gives products made in Nova Scotia. A quick search on their website, I learned that this bowl cost $60 and I immediately thought of what our grassroots group, who is always relying on donations, could have accomplished with $60. Not much you might say. Not true I say.
Just this week, I supplied coffee, tea and carrot muffins for 10 influencers from Dalhousie Medical school as they explored the area as a possible site for the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship program, where up to 5-medical students will live and practice in our community. $60 could have paid for us to tour 143 KM's of coastline with our visiting doctor and her family. $60 could have helped us pay for a bike rental so they could have explored our trails. Sure, we often leverage partnerships with the private sector and generously Sweet Rides in Mahone Bay often get donates bikes but golly, it would sure be nice to actually pay for one every once in a while.
$60 might have paid for a bottle of wine for a couple to share over dinner, or it could have been used to help us pay for gas when we go to New Brunswick in the fall for our next doctor recruitment event.
I'm not trying to suggest that we don't appreciate gifts, or that they shouldn't be given or to stop supporting Nova Scotia products. But honestly, my first thought after opening it was, "I wonder what I can fill this with to give to a visiting doctor, so they'll remember us. Maybe I can fill it with homemade nuts and accompany it with local craft beer. Perhaps I can turn it into a soap dish and include some of our homemade artisan soaps."
See, I told you I'd come off like an ungrateful brat, but as difficult as it was to say this, someone has to have the courage to tell the truth. Let's not stop buying fabulous gifts made in Nova Scotia that promote our province. But let's understand our audience. Let's continue to support our incredible Nova Scotia producers by giving them to potential investors. A basket with Nova Scotian Crystal, craft beer, Amos Pewter, Ironworks rum, seeds from The Incredible Seed Co, and a litany of other incredible products made here in Nova Scotia, to show investors that Nova Scotia is where it's at when it comes to doing business and creating epic products. But to presenters at a conference, someone like me who is a 'sure thing', who already knows we are the creative epicentre, the best gift of all would be if our government could make it easier for our group and other grassroots groups like ours to do this work.
Tina Hennigar is the population growth coordinator for NOW Lunenburg County.