Collaboration & innovation are our foundation.
Inspiring Communities (IC) was founded in 2018, but the work began much earlier.
In communities like North Dartmouth, North Sydney and Digby, groups of citizens came together seeking new ways to address longstanding challenges like substance use, lack of economic opportunities, food insecurity and violence.
Within government, a group of senior public servants sought innovative ways to support this uprising. This group identified collective impact, which was then a new model of community engagement, and conducted research to settle on the geographic communities which they determined showed the right balance of need and readiness. With an interested group of changemakers, they set up collective impact projects and from these, Inspiring Communities emerged.
Inspiring Communities’ initial focus was to support the development of collaborative community building initiatives in two rural areas using the Collective Impact framework. These community initiatives are now known as Northside Rising and Turning the Tide. In 2019, Inspiring Communities welcomed Between the Bridges in Dartmouth North, another existing collective impact initiative that had been created by the United Way a bit earlier.
After more than five years of evaluation data indicated the limitations of collective impact, a point other practitioners around the world were acknowledging, IC recognized it was time to evolve. As a central identity, collective impact was only a “How”. We needed our “why.”
The answer was equity. Learning from our communities, it was apparent that inequity was a root issue across our province and region. Using a systems lens, we determined that if we were able to tackle inequity, we might make extraordinary shifts in many of the broken systems in which we work. While our work had always sought to lift up marginalized voices, in 2022, we renewed our strategic directions, placing equity firmly in the centre.
Our organization has continued to embrace new learning and evolve. When the pandemic struck in 2020, we were ready to convene help where it was needed. We shifted our focus to maintaining social cohesion and fighting isolation and anxiety as these issues emerged. When the Mass Casualty occurred in Portapique in 2020, we deepened our attention paid to community trauma. We remain unwavering in our commitment to addressing emergent challenges in our communities through collaborating and innovating. We continue to explore new ways to do this.
Today, we hold a vision of building relationships, fostering skills in changemakers and experimenting with new ways to change broken systems that are rooted in inequity. Achieving equity will make a significant impact on longstanding challenges, and help our region sustain thriving communities.
Our Commitment to Equity
When we consider equity-deserving groups, we think in particular of working with and centering historical African Nova Scotian communities, Indigenous peoples (Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Passamaquoddy), racialized newcomers and others, and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities that have been typically underrepresented and marginalized in social innovation spaces. We recognize intersectionality of identities, and the effect that intersectionality has on people interacting with systems.