Envision Halifax is on Sabbatical and, in the way I’m sure only Envision would think to do it, we celebrated tonight at the Halifax Hub. We celebrated the Sabbatical because it was a conscious, intentional choice to pause and, more importantly, we celebrated the many people and successes that fueled Envision and the leadership program. Four years of a leadership program, 80 graduates and countless others who worked in the thick of things and all around the edges. If not for ALIA, the United Way and the McConnell Foundation, Envision would not have come into being.
We don’t know half of what has been seeded or sprouted because of Envision and all the people it touched. Envision alumnae are out in the world, in Halifax and beyond, doing things differently because of their experiences. New networks have sprouted and cool work is happening as a result. People have changed. I have changed.
Envision Halifax shifted the shape of my leadership and my world. Envision Halifax was a leadership journey for me. It appeared in my life when I was looking for my next leadership development opportunity – I just wasn’t expecting it to be in a leadership role. It brought me to ALIA which brought me to the Art of Hosting world. I came home to community in all of these places and over the years I came home to myself. I learned about relationships, about trust, about staying power – and also about letting go.
Yes, I gave a lot of volunteer time to Envision. So did a lot of other people. Tonight, I was gifted with s symbol of recognition for all those hours and for my contribution to igniting a culture of civic engagement. It is a beautiful gift that I cherish. The irony is, Envision Halifax has been gifting me all throughout the five years of my involvement and I don’t think it will stop any time soon, even with Envision on Sabbatical.
Thank you Envision. Thank you to all the amazing friends and colleagues I have met through Envision who have taken me to places and relationships I could not have imagined. The beautiful and beautifully inscribed crystal bowl really wasn’t necessary and the very gesture of it has touched me deeply.
So, I know one day is not totally going to shift the shape of Halifax — however, it starts with shifting attitudes and this happened on Saturday, December 5 at Change Camp at the Halifax Hub. Sixty or seventy citizens of Halifax showed up in response to the question: What does Halifax as a vibrant city mean to you?
Using Open Space Technology throughout the day, fourteen exploration conversations happened in the morning and a number carried through into the afternoon developing some concrete steps. You can see the conversation topics here: Change Camp
Examples of shift: one of the groups wanted to talk about the vacancy rate on Barrington Street and how to revitalize this key downtown street. They realized there wasn’t much they could do about filling in empty building spaces but, after venturing out and taking pictures of the street, they did realize there was lots they could do to bring renewed vibrancy to the street itself. Shift in attitude. Shift in perception. This is just one of the many examples of ideas generated with action steps attached.
At the end of the day a number of participants reflected on the diversity in the room, the energy that remained high throughout the day and the renewal of hope. One older man reflected that he came with cynicism, fully expecting to leave at noon and now he was leaving at the end of the day feeling energized and renewed.
The people in these Change Camp conversations really sunk into the idea that if there is to be a renewal of community and a vibrancy in Halifax it comes from citizens – ordinary people who care about the place where they live and work and are really beginning to understand that that caring needs to show up as action – even small steps can leverage a large shift.
Kudos to Emily Richardson, a young, relatively new arrival to Halifax, whose imagination was captured by the idea of hosting a Change Camp and, because of this, magnetized the resources and assistance she needed to create an amazingly successful day – and to the Hub a truly inspired meeting place in downtown Halifax.
I helped out through Envision Halifax sponsorship of this event and it was a clear example of igniting a culture of civic engagement.