June 15 Founding meeting
Attended by: Progress Magazine, McInnes Cooper, Authentic Leadership in Action and the Official Policy and Planning.
March 20 First investors
Spring 2013: The Province of Nova Scotia, Community Foundation of Nova Scotia and private sector funders provide start-up financial support.
May 1 Regular meetings
From July 2012 – May 2013: Regular meetings – including quarterly Stewards Gatherings – to confirm purpose and undertake strategic planning.
May 31 First employee
Nancy Watson is seconded from the provincial government to act as managing director (and first employee).
February 12 Ivany Report Released
Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians (the Ivany Report) is released.
February 13 Social Labs workshop with Zaid Hassan
Zaid Hassan, author of the Social Labs Revolution, visited from the UK to lead a public workshop on an innovative approach to multi-stakeholder collaboration.
February 25 Rescuing Policy: The Case for Public Engagement workshop
Don Lenihan, Vice-president of the Public Policy Forum and Chair of the Open Government Engagement Team for the Government of Ontario, led a public workshop and championed public engagement within the provincial government.
June 3 First board!
A permanent board of directors was appointed on June 3, 2014.
Original board members included Jaime Battiste, Michael Chender, Mark Coffin, Ramona Lumpkin, Doug Keefe, Rankin MacSween, Jim Mustard, Gaynor Watson-Creed, Lynn Hennigar, Robert Orr, Gerald Weseen, Patricia Bishop, Pamela Scott Crace, and Danny Graham.
The executive is made up by Ramona Lumpkin (chair), Doug Keefe (vice chair), and Pamela Scott Crace (Secretary-Treasurer)
September 19 Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM) engagement training
Danny and Dan led a group of 45 mayors, councillors, and senior municipal staffers through a day-long workshop in September in Truro. The sessions focused on how innovative engagement techniques can be designed and facilitated to energize the public around shared opportunities, while minimizing the risks of apathy or acrimony that can often undermine traditional “town hall” meetings. One of the questions the group explored was: What do you believe is the first, best step to building a more vibrant and inclusive Nova Scotia? You may be surprised at the answers.
October 11 First Share Thanksgiving dinners held in Nova Scotia
From October 11-13, in its first year of participation in this national project, ENS matched more Nova Scotia families with newcomers than anywhere else in the country, with the exception of Toronto. More than 900 people participated as dinner hosts or guests, and we had solid uptake in social and traditional media. It was a great way to introduce Nova Scotians to some of what Engage Nova Scotia is all about: everyday people coming together in new ways to take steps towards a more inclusive and vibrant future for all Nova Scotians. Thank you to everyone who participated. We’re looking forward to next year.
November 7 Stewards gatherings
A broad group of Engage Nova Scotia Network stewards answered the invitation for a gathering in Halifax. This was one example of several Stewards meetings that happened in 2013 and 2014.
Danny provided an update on Engage Nova Scotia’s recent activities and future work plans. It’s been a busy period: ENS now has a small staff group and a long list of activities we intend to initiate and to be partners in.
Following a lively discussion, we broke into smaller groups to share and discuss hopes and fears for the ENS vision. These conversations spanned a continuum of concern that grassroots efforts towards change might not be taken seriously by traditional power systems, to hopes that ENS could be an example of how small populations of engaged citizens can reimagine and revitalize their shared futures.
November 30 Engage Inverness event
We worked with a local group of municipal and community leaders to design and deliver Engage Inverness County—a two-day conference that focused on how the people of that region can build a practice of coming together to tackle their economic and social challenges. Since then, they have hosted a successful, county-wide event, with about 120 people gathering to share, explore and learn about “the practice of community.” The keynote, delivered by Rankin MacSween of New Dawn, closed with these words: “Our new narrative will be about hope, faith, justice, and fairness. It will call our children home.”
January 10 Ideas Marketplace held at Cole Harbour Place
30 changemakers from across the province gathered to share ideas, provide feedback, and to find channels to collaborate with others.
February 28 Barrington gets engaged!
We led a seminar for the staff and Council of Municipality of the District of Barrington that helped them identify ways to engage citizens in forging new paths toward developing a shared vision and economic diversification in that region of the province.
March 25 Cumberland County Life
Business leaders came together in Amherst to tackle challenges in their region. We co-hosted the event with Cumberland County Life, a group founded by six business leaders who wanted to mobilize the community in response to the Ivany Commission report. The session was designed to promote collaboration and generate concrete actions that could be undertaken without government assistance to improve the economy.
May 2 #ItsOK2GitOutsideDay
In partnership with many other great organizations, we celebrated surviving the #Snowmageddon that was the winter of 2015 by encouraging Nova Scotians to pull out their BBQs and invite their neighbours over for a good old-fashioned neighbourhood party on #ItsOK2GitOutsideDay!
June 15 Stepping Up Conference
More than 830 people across 12 communities and another 800+ watching on their computers, tablets, and phones were part of our first ever Stepping Up conference on June 16. Our #StepUpNS hashtag trended #1 across Canada for several hours – and was still being used 5 months later. Our team summarized the events of the day here. The following short video captures the extraordinary spirit of the day. Take a look.
October 8 Myrna Lewis, Sera Thompson and Aftab Erfan led a Deep Democracy workshop in Halifax
Myrna Lewis joined us for Lowering the Waterline to give us a taste of Deep Democracy in action at a workshop attended by 50+ network members on October 8. As an exercise, participants were invited to share their views on a statement from the Ivany Report, which quickly surfaced two clearly opposing views.
Susan Szpakowski captured the details of the day here.
October 10 Share Thanksgiving 2015
From October 10-12, for the second year, we organized Share Thanksgiving in Nova Scotia. More than 1000 people participated as either hosts or guests – about two and a half times more than in 2014! We were really lucky to have great volunteers join us to help out as we matched host and guest families.
Nancy Watson shared the details with Haley Ryan in the Metro News.
October 21 Hubbards Area Business Association joins the conversation
Residents of Hubbards gathered to meet, network and talk about their future. The event, sponsored by Hubbards Area Business Association, was attended by over 40 residents, politicians, and business owners. When asked how people felt about their ability to have an impact in the province, 70 percent responded via interactive voting technology that they saw themselves as not only informed and willing but also able to make a lasting impact.
October 28 Al Etmanski visits Nova Scotia for an “unlaunch” of his book
We held a Book Unlaunch for Al Etmanski’s IMPACT: Six Patterns To Spread Your Social Innovation by Al Etmanski on October 28. Several of our social innovator friends joined Al for this fun-filled event at the Company House in North-End Halifax. Once again, Dan O’Rourke captured the magic of the evening.
The next morning, Al led a fantastic workshop based on his book for about 50 people at the Halifax Central Library. Mary Jane Lamond taught us a Gaelic song – collectively, we sounded wonderful! Stories were shared, ideas exchanged and a good time was had by all. Before he left, Al joined Dan O’Rourke and Susan Szpakowski for a podcast. If you missed seeing Al in person, check it out here.
November 16 Relationship Through Education
In partnership with Treaty Education Nova Scotia and Canadians for a New Partnership, we hosted A New Partnership: Building Relationship Through Education, a public conversation about how aboriginal and non-aboriginal Nova Scotians can build a stronger relationship. We were in awe of the number of people who wanted to attend – in less than 24 hours, all of the available seats were filled!
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin and AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde addressed approximately 280 people gathered at the Halifax Central Library, followed by a facilitated conversation with panelists Jaime Battiste, Naiomi Mettalic and Cynthia Alexander. If you were unable to attend, you can get a sense of the day through the APTN coverage here.
November 30 North Shore Conveners’ Gathering
Organizers from five different Stepping Up Conference locations gathered at NSCC Stellarton for a North Shore Conveners Gathering to connect and share what they have learned about catalysing change in their communities. The session was designed to test the concept of a regional approach to building networks of support. We shared stories and brainstormed opportunities for energizing and sustaining community engagement.
February 17 Amherst Community Visioning events
More than 200 people who live, work and play in Amherst spent their evening at the town Fire Hall talking about the future of their town. This was a remarkable turnout for a town that size. The event, which came about as the result of a collaboration between Engage Nova Scotia and the Town of Amherst, included interactive voting and group “open space” conversations about a range of challenges and opportunities that were identified during the evening. This was the first of two such events.
March 21 Getting strategic advice from our network
Several people from across the province joined us for an online discussion to have input
into our organization. We are always looking for ways to reach more people. We’re a small province, but
getting together in one place can be a challenge. So we looked to technology to help. When asked why they had joined the webinar, 75% said they were there because they wanted to find ways to “work with
others who want to catalyze change” and “be connected to a provincial network of people and projects.” We discovered that many people were ready to connect with others and to further their work. That led to the Connecting for Change gathering at Windhorse Farm in June.
April 18 Transforming Differences into Progress workshop
We were delighted to co-host a workshop with Kathy Jourdain and Jerry Nagel of Shape Shift Strategies at the Halifax Central Library. After a primer on the Worldview Intelligence work they have pioneered, we were led through a series of exercises that helped uncover the hidden beliefs and assumptions that may get in the way of us connecting around shared work—or increase our ability to connect once we understand them. Participants left the session with an enhanced appreciation for the value of learning to recognize one’s own perspectives, as well as see from the eyes of others. A video captures the highlights of the day.
April 27 Amherst Community Visioning event
Over 100 people from the Amherst area came together to help build a stronger community. At an earlier session, the community had identified six priorities— i) business growth, ii) expanding tourism, ii) youth retention and attraction, iv) downtown revitalization, v) trails and recreation, and vi) ways to build an age-friendly community. At the second event, people organized themselves into groups and identified available resources, hurdles, solutions and next steps for each topic. Everyone then placed themselves on a “commitment circle” to ensure that these initiatives would get traction moving forward. Follow-up meetings have been held in each of the six areas and projects are well underway.
June 6 Speaking Up
The Now or Never report suggested that, as Nova Scotians, we hold ourselves back with attitudes of “division, distrust and discouragement.” Is that really true? Engage partnered with Corporate Research Associates and CBC Radio’s Mainstreet to explore what we really believe.
People across the province were fundamentally upbeat about Nova Scotia’s many strengths and potential. At the same time, they identified real concerns about aspects of our culture and narrative that many feel are slowing or stalling meaningful progress.
June 23 Connecting 4 Change gathering
On June 23-25, Engage brought together 16 people from 11 different citizen-led projects at Windhorse Farm to consider building a network of similarly-minded groups from across Nova Scotia. We gave input into each other’s projects and looked at the bigger picture, in Nova Scotia and globally. Many of us left re-energized and refocused on the work ahead. We saw ways we can work together to accelerate positive change and deepen our relationships and understanding across our projects.
We believe there are more opportunities for similar experiences at a regional level that will create more tangible ways to share best practices across the province. In the coming months, we will continue to build on the ideas and proposals that were generated at the this inspiring gathering.
July 5 A Better Voting System – We’ve got Options (In partnership with Springtide)
In early July we partnered with Springtide Collective for an event that explored alternative voting models and a lively discussion of their pros and cons. Through the use of audience response polling technology, we learned that 68% of people in the room thought that a Mixed Member Proportional Representation system should be used in NS.
September 26 Five Myths of Collaboration events
A collaboration gets tough when it becomes clear just how differently the other people think—whether it’s our children, partner, colleagues, or other Nova Scotians trying to move our province forward. On September 26-28 Adam Kahane and Ian Prinsloo led a series of events that included a workshop for five multi-stakeholder teams actively working on collaborations that promise to break new ground for our province.
At the workshop we were pushed and stretched to see all the ways we get stuck. We learned that collaboration isn’t always the best option, that the first place to make change is in ourselves, and we need to “learn like a dolphin” as we navigate multiple expectations and changing terrain. Watch for news about Adam Kahane’s forthcoming book Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust. Many thanks to Dalhousie University for helping make this event possible.
October 9 Share Thanksgiving 2016
From October 9-10, now in its third year, Share Thanksgiving is an opportunity for hosts to welcome a newcomer family or international student to Thanksgiving dinner, and for newcomers to experience Nova Scotia customs and hospitality. In 2016, more people than ever before signed up to participate. International Students made up an amazing 65% of all applications, thanks to the support of their campus international centres. Guests from 40 different countries joined hosts across the province, with a particular concentration in Halifax. In fact, we had so many guest applications in that we could not match all the families, which led to Share Thanksgiving 2.
October 28 Inaugural Halifax Spur Festival
Spur is a series of forward-looking, solution-focused discussions and performances, held in cities across Canada, designed to spur Canadians to action on issues affecting us all. The inaugural Halifax event took place from October 28-30 and included debates and conversations, walking tours, film screenings, a new comedy by playwright Daniel MacIvor and much more. Engage Nova Scotia participated as a sponsor and moderator for the Process of Progress session. In a panel discussion moderated by Danny Graham at the Halifax Central Library, participants listened to the poetry by El Jones and commentary by Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Maureen Googoo and Jon Tattrie.
November 22 Share Thanksgiving 2: A Community Dinner
Language wasn’t a barrier for the children playing and laughing in the Kid’s Corner at Pier 21 on November 22. There were well over 100 guests under the age of 10 – some recent refugees and others born in Nova Scotia. They later joined their parents, who were getting to know their host families over a late Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.
Altogether about 440 people filled the room, including volunteer organizers and interpreters, hosts and guests. This was the follow-up event for the newcomers who had signed up to take part in Share Thanksgiving weekend, but hadn’t been matched with a host family for a home visit. We made it easy by renting a large hall and putting out the call for a new round of hosts. Within four days we had more than enough volunteer families ready to host a table.
March 1 Our first podcast!
On March 1, 2017, we joined Pictou 2020 for an event to hear 30 2-minute stories of local success from residents of Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Listen to the Voices podcast.
March 27 Our first webinar!
In March, during a recent visit from Denmark, Toke Moeller spoke with Tim Merry about the challenges of our time in a webinar hosted by Engage. When we find ourselves on a burning platform, he said, our first reaction is to duck and take cover. But then we become even more isolated and polarized—which is what created many of our problems in the first place.
Toke described the Art of Hosting as a practice of bringing people together so they can find their own solutions and take action. It’s simple, he says. People naturally innovate. They naturally learn. This is just common sense, and yet it is also radical. We don’t need a movement for change. We need to become more human. Learn more and to watch the webinar.
May 10 Lochaber event
Strong communities are vibrant and engaged, with citizens coming together to inform decisions, address issues and create opportunities. But it can be challenging to create and maintain the conditions for this kind of public engagement.
That’s why we invited Municipal Councillors and staff and community leaders from across the province to come together for a day-long engagement clinic. The idea was simple—to learn from each other about what works and what doesn’t, based on personal experiences all across Nova Scotia.
We had a full house at the beautiful Lochaber Community Centre in Antigonish County, and everyone left with practical next steps they could take to kick-start and sustain grassroots engagement.
September 6 Share Thanksgiving 2017 launch event
Joined by past hosts, guests, and community partners, we kicked off Share Thanksgiving 2017 with a launch event at Pier 21. In partnership with Sobeys Inc., we announced four community dinners that were scheduled to take place in Antigonish, Halifax, Sydney, and New Minas in the lead up to Thanksgiving. Thank you to Sherifat Onabanjo for sharing her experiences with us.
September 14 Quality of Life workshops
We think improving the quality of life of Nova Scotians is as important as hitting economic targets. That’s why we’re launching Canada’s first combined Index and Survey of Quality of Life in November 2017.
On September 14 and 15, we invited two groups of thoughtful Nova Scotians to join us at Saint Mary’s University and Membertou to interpret some early results. From business, academia, government and the social sector, they helped us imagine how a more complete view of success might change the way we work together.