‘ The essence of democ­racy is col­lec­tive wis­dom’

En­gage Nova Sco­tia wants to ad­vance cul­ture of col­lab­o­ra­tion, in­no­va­tion, self re­liance

Cape Breton Post - - BUSINESS EXTRA - BY GREG MCNEIL gm­c­neil­cb­post.com

In his new role, Danny Graham al­most feels like he's tak­ing care of some un­fin­ished busi­ness re­lated to an old role.

Graham is the chief en­gage­ment of­fi­cer with En­gage Nova Sco­tia, which is ad­vanc­ing a provincewide cul­ture of col­lab­o­ra­tion, in­no­va­tion and self-re­liance, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

He was also the leader of the Lib­eral Party of Nova Sco­tia up un­til the 2003 gen­eral elec­tion.

“In that elec­tion we were just talk­ing about auto in­sur­ance,” he said.

“Many of the things that I had wanted to do, if we had won the gen­eral elec­tion in 2003, would be dif­fi­cult to do be­cause the con­ver­sa­tions that re­ally mat­tered about what needed to shift hadn't hap­pened suf­fi­ciently in com­mu­ni­ties.”

When history looks back at the ma­jor is­sues fac­ing the province, he sus­pects in­sur­ance won’t be one of them. In­stead, the is­sues of note might very well be is­sues re­lated to his new role where he hopes the con­ver­sa­tions have shifted.

“What we need to do to re­al­ize our po­ten­tial is to tap into the pas­sion many have for what they are al­ready do­ing and what they want to do to make a dif­fer­ence,” he said.

“There is a sense that by en­gag­ing peo­ple more broadly and more deeply in their com­mu­ni­ties and in their sec­tors we can ac­tu­ally be­gin to make ex­cit­ing things hap­pen.”

Through En­gage Nova Sco­tia, the goal is to bring peo­ple to­gether to broadly and deeply dis­cuss root causes of chal­lenges, he said.

The char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion pre­cedes the One Nova Sco­tia re­port and now, in many ways, looks to help im­ple­ment that re­port's goals as they re­late to the econ­omy and de­mog­ra­phy.

"There's a line in the re­port that talks about the need to over­come psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­ri­ers of di­vi­sion, dis­tress and dis­cour­age­ment in Nova Sco­tia,” Graham said.

“What En­gage Nova Sco­tia is look­ing to do, metaphor­i­cally, is till the soil, re­move the rocks, plant nu­tri­ents and bring to­gether all the stuff that is pos­si­ble to grow stronger busi­ness and com­mu­ni­ties.”

To that end, En­gage Nova Sco­tia is invit­ing peo­ple provincewide to talk about what mat­ters to them.

“No­body is imag­in­ing some nir­vana where ev­ery­one is in agree­ment about what emerges from the other end of this,” he said.

“What we are feel­ing is that the essence of democ­racy is col­lec­tive wis­dom and in its deep­est, rich­est form its about much more than mark­ing an ‘X’ on a bal­lot ev­ery four years.”

Al­ready, En­gage Nova Sco­tia has worked with groups across the province and plans to meet with many more.

A provincewide con­ver­sa­tion was held June 16 to talk about the fu­ture of the province.

“There’s a real pent-up de­sire for peo­ple to step up and be part of the so­lu­tions in our province. It fo­cuses less on what is wrong and more on what is pos­si­ble for us from one end of the province to another.”

Though the work is un­der­way there's no spe­cific timeline at­tached to com­plet­ing En­gage Nova Sco­tia’s work.

“We need to un­der­stand that it has taken a long time to get to the places we are in and we are not go­ing to turn it around overnight,” Graham said.

“There’s also some im­por­tant and trans­for­ma­tive steps that need to be taken in or­der to pull us out of it.”


Danny Graham is the chief en­gage­ment of­fi­cer with En­gage Nova Sco­tia, which is ad­vanc­ing a provincewide cul­ture of col­lab­o­ra­tion, in­no­va­tion and self-re­liance.

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