Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
What We Do
Northside Rising supports people and organizations in achieving shared goals and maximizing impact. We call this supportive social infrastructure: the governance, facilitation, relationships, networks, and programs that empower a community of changemakers.
Northside Rising is a collaborative initiative which takes action on concerns and opportunities the community cares about in a way that builds the conditions for change. We cultivate a culture of mutual support, enhancing collective capacity to lead change, be creative, try new things, address complex issues and learn together as we go, ultimately inspiring hope and nurturing agency for Northsiders.
How it all Began
The Northside area of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) includes Sydney Mines, North Sydney, and the surrounding rural communities, including Florence and Bras D’Or.
In 2017, early dreams of Northside Rising began to come to life. Inspiring Communities started working with the Northside community and Community CARES Youth Outreach, a local organization helping young people overcome adversity and achieve higher goals. A team of collaborators and a plan took shape. Over that summer, students from the Northside were hired to gather input from community members, asking questions like, “What keeps you up at night?”, and “What needs to be done to create a stronger community?” 550 residents were engaged through these surveys, along with focus groups, and community conversations. The results described a strong and proud community that has experienced a significant period of decline due to changes in the local economy, resulting in increasing challenges such as poverty and unemployment, limited opportunities for youth, and high levels of substance use. These significant and complex problems have robbed many local residents of hope for a better future.
Community Collaboration on Substance Use
Northside Rising officially “launched” in 2018 with a set of activities designed to take action on community priorities. Substance Use was identified as an area of overwhelming concern. Northside Rising began by applying a ‘Collective Impact’ approach to bringing stakeholders together.
Collective Impact is a structured approach to addressing complex issues. It brings together residents, governments, community organizations, and businesses in a way that honours their unique perspectives and valuable contributions. Northside Rising prioritizes first voice participation.
A Substance Use Round Table was formed and continues to work together to reduce harm, combat stigma, and bring about systems level change. Various working groups have developed to hold different activities related to this shared agenda. Northside Rising has supported the creation of CAPED (Cape Breton Association of People Empowering Drug Users), an advocacy group for people with lived and living experience in drug use across CBRM.
A Framework for Change
In this moment, the events in the world, in our communities, and at our kitchen tables, are urging Northside Rising to cast a wider net. We are in the process of developing a Framework for Change, a “container” to hold our work, with room to grow and adapt, room for complexity and change, room for responsiveness and learning as we go, and room for broader participation. We will carry out our work with three action areas for change:
- Creating Social Infrastructure: We facilitate collaborative processes and co-create programs and initiatives that lift Northsiders up, giving people, organizations and the community as a whole the tools, resources, connections, confidence and power to be changemakers.
- Mobilizing our Community: We work differently with stakeholders, from community members to organizations to government; listening, opening dialogue, inviting diverse voices, making connections, and creating rich and diverse relationships that foster individual and collective well-being and systemic change.
- Writing Our Story: The story we tell ourselves about ourselves affects what we believe and how we act. We support Northsiders in telling their stories and in writing new chapters grounded in hope and agency. Hope is a prerequisite for change; in order for change to happen, people must believe that change is possible.
Northside Rising looks forward to sharing new initiatives as this framework takes flight! Join our mailing list to stay in the loop.