February 2016 newsletter


Photo courtesy Alexander Szpakowski

Recently the Engage team has been taking a fresh look at where we’ve been and where we want to go in 2016. The first thing we notice is how much we accomplished in 2015—from the Stepping Up conference (in 12 communities!) to the candid and spirited New Partnership dialogue among federal, provincial, and Mi’kmaq leaders. From “walking alongside” community action groups to inviting Nova Scotians to share Thanksgiving dinner with new neighbours. From making available promising new tools to applying them in our own work. If you haven't already, take a look at the 2015 Year in Review here.

Each of these projects could lead to many more—but will they get us to where we need to go? Right now our best answer is “yes...and maybe not.” We are confident that many large and small positive actions across the province will take on a life of their own and build in ways we cannot predict. For example, a recent survey told us that 42% of people who attended the Stepping Up conference joined or started a new project that day, and 80% of those projects are still continuing. At the same time, digging deeper into one or two focus areas will help Engage move its work closer to root issues and solutions.

We invite your input as we take next steps in our planning. So far over 80 people have volunteered to be part of an advisory group that will meet in the coming weeks. Join them by signing up now.

—the Engage team: Danny, Nancy, Susan, Dan, Elizabeth and Jennifer

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Let's face tomorrow together—in Amherst

February 17, 6:00–9:00 pm. Amherst Fire Hall.

Do you live, work or play in Amherst? Engage Nova Scotia and the Town of Amherst invite you to a conversation about the way things are, the challenges ahead, and the opportunities to make Amherst one of the best places to live in the province.

Sign up here.

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How local action starts and spreads

Engage talks with Dana Perry, Community Sector Council, Annapolis Valley


“When we try something new, it helps to keep our expectations low.” Dana Perry has a modest way of talking about the monthly sessions he facilitates with Nina Barnaby and Michel Carty at the NSCC campus in Digby. The group had just had their fourth monthly meeting a few evenings before, with a turnout of 60 people—twice the number that came for the first session in September. So their numbers were steadily rising, not dropping off, and all six of the initial action projects were still going strong. The people who turned out came from all corners of the community and included business owners, nonprofit leaders, the local mayor, their MLA, educators, and volunteers.

What is the attraction? “When all the usual people are trying to do everything in a small community, they tend to get burned out,” explains Dana. “If they can come to a place where other people are also ready to step up, they know they won’t be left holding all the work, all the responsibility. And by meeting monthly they can see projects moving forward. Things are happening, and that attracts new people looking for something they can get hold of. We have...  Read more.

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Engage team updates


Happy hour at the end of a long week. Around the circle, left to right: Dan O'Rourke, Elizabeth Randell, Isabel Chender, Nancy Watson, Danny Graham. About to arrive: Susan Szpakowski. En route to Chile: Amy Schwartz. In the wings: Jennifer DeCoste

Change is afoot! Amy has set out on a four-month traveling sabattical and Isabel recently left to work on a sustainability leadership program that will take place deep in the Brazilian Amazon forest this summer. Meanwhile, we are delighted that Jennifer DeCoste will be joining our team February 1. Welcome Jennifer!


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