The work of Inspiring Communities first began in Nova Scotia as a result of seeing how progress on social problems has been limited by old patterns of working in silos. Government departments can do more to work horizontally on the issues that touch them all. Community organizations work better together and with other sectors for greater impact. And, resident voices need to show up in more meaningful ways. This recognition led to our involvement in place-based work in three sites using the Collective Impact framework.
The problem of needing to connect across divides is not limited to Nova Scotia, or to particular communities. We know that social change efforts often remain disconnected and fragmented, so opportunities are missed to develop shared learning, pooled resources and a collective voice. We also need more opportunities to learn about how to do work in complex, collaborative contexts. While signs of positive social impact are emerging, it is a difficult environment for funders and policymakers to navigate, and we risk failing due to being under-resourced and under-valued.
In early 2019, with support from the McConnell Foundation, we began working towards developing a supportive ecosystem to connect community changemakers in Atlantic Canada so that we can boost existing efforts, experiment with and scale good ideas, and learn from each other. What do we mean by changemakers? These are the individuals, groups and organizations that are “rocking the boat”. They’re challenging outdated ways of working and lines of command. They’re developing new approaches for tackling longstanding social issues. And, most importantly, they’re working towards a society that is designed to benefit everyone.
We believe that our region will be better off when strong, genuine relationships go beyond the boundaries of race, age, culture, geography and socio-economic status. Building relationships and bridging divides are the foundation from which we work: real change will come from connecting and supporting those who are on the ground strengthening and healing our communities.
Community leaders across the region are ready for change. There is a desire to link arms and break down divides, and to shift from a mindset of scarcity to abundance. We believe that by finding ways to support these connections we could weave together a more impactful and resilient region based on trusting relationships and shared learning.
We know we won’t get it right every step of the way but we want to set a foundation of holding the space for new thinking, partnerships and actions that is based on the spirit of connectedness.