‘ The essence of democracy is collective wisdom’
Engage Nova Scotia wants to advance culture of collaboration, innovation, self reliance
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.