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Systems Change in a Difficult Time

systems change in a difficult time report cover

Systems change can take a long time. So, how do you know if you’re moving the needle? 

“The most important contribution to date is the feeling of hope that comes in when they speak about it; the changing of a mindset. It is hope and knowing there is support for the community coming together, and that we can fix our communities ourselves; that understanding and mentality is wonderful.” 

-Community participant

Inspiring Communities’ network has pulled together impacts identified by evaluation teams across the region. In Systems Change in Difficult Times – Impact Report 2020-2021, these individual impacts are compiled into seven signs of change:

  • Lifted up the voices of people with lived experience
  • Connected leaders & increased capacity among leaders and in network
  • Increased culture of collaboration
  • Supported communities in taking collective action in response to the pandemic
  • Strengthening evaluation capacity
  • Shifted outdated narratives 
  • Building a learning culture

Each of these is supported with examples from Inspiring Communities nested initiatives and evaluation projects. 

“Challenges, global and local, have affected systems at all levels, and in many ways have deepened the need for systems change,” said Inspiring Communities Board Chair Joanne Linzey. “We continue to explore how to shift mindsets and influence change in communities. We believe our work is more important than ever.”

Executive Director Louise Adongo said, “2020 has shown us once again the importance of community: resilient, meaningful, and intentional relationships. Collaboration and convening are central to our work with, and for, the community, which has grown in importance and reach.” She added, “Pandemic or not, we look forward to connecting with all those who want to make a difference, to co-create a better future for the Atlantic Provinces, Canada and the world.” 

Responding to the pandemic, as might be expected, comprised a large part of the work of the network. This took the form of helping ensure food security, assure equitable digital access and mitigate social isolation. 

Some examples of community impacts include: 

  • Between the Bridges was asked to convene three Dartmouth North food banks, the Public Good Society & Feed Nova Scotia. Together they created a food-delivery system that served homebound clients of local food banks. Before long, another partnership was also created to include GF options in the food deliveries.
  • Turning the Tide enlisted their Community Ambassadors to connect with residents and help them cope with COVID restrictions. Between April to July, seven Community Ambassadors connected with 194 people in their local areas, helping them access resources and assistance and providing a comforting listening ear. 
  • Northside Rising initiated The Northside Virtual Coffeehouse, which is creating a space for more people to learn about local issues and consider their involvement. 

Read the full report here

Inspiring Communities will be reviewing and engaging in strategic direction planning this summer, as part of regular evaluation activities to best apply systems change efforts. 

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