My latest column just got published in Lighthouse NOW, the local paper. See it by clicking here or read below. I found my journals from when I moved to Nova Scotia about 12 years ago. Sparked some thoughts for me about my choice to move to the "fringes of the madness" ... and, yup, that pic is me in 2004 with our Meisje as a puppy!
This article was also featured in the Chronicle Herald.
“The world is not going to get better. The current global chaos is going to increase. The madness we see now will only continue to escalate, I suspect until we hit a massive ecological crisis. I believe human intervention has gone too far globally to be remedied - the battle is lost. The opposite of despair is not hope for me; the opposite of despair is action.
Nova Scotia works for me as a place to begin this new action in my life. It is on the fringes of the madness; what has infected so much of the world has not really hit Nova Scotia yet. It still has slowness and simplicity in its nature. When a pond unfreezes, it is the edges that melt first. I believe that as the world descends further into chaos, that we will need places which hold good human wisdom and practice.”
It felt a bit strange to read it to be honest. It does feel to me like the chaos has only increased over the lat 13 years: the number of ecological disasters, increased economic uncertainty, massive social unrest, the breakdown of trust between citizens and governments, corporate greed running rampant … you don’t need me to continue the list!
That got me to thinking about why Nova Scotia is such a great place to be. In the midst of all this madness we can watch from the edges and make our own decisions. It is like we are part of it but not fully in it all. Thank goodness. More from my diary:
“a place where people can get out of the craziness of the rat race and see the bigger picture, connect to meaning and purpose in life, break the illusion we are being sold daily and re-enter life with a clear insight and compassion.“
For me, that then begs the question: what are we going to do with the relatively privileged position of safety in a globally tumultuous time? What opportunity do we have here in Nova Scotia to forge a way of life that is informed by the craziness around us but not driven by it?
There are already some great examples of citizens rising to the occasion right here in Lunenburg County. The tech start up, Woodscamp, for example. They are disrupting the Forestry Sector across Nova Scotia with a model that could have impacts in Forestry across North America and Europe. NOW Lunenburg County has hired a coordinator and launched a strategy to create population growth across our region. What we learn here could have implications for how rural communities everywhere deal wth population decline and stalling local economies. The Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance is bringing some of the worlds top classical and jazz artists to Nova Scotia and training performers who will travel the world with the DNA of Lunenburg county in their art. I have heard recently of an initiative to bring some of the worlds top executives to Lunenburg County for pivotal strategic retreats. The belief is that the culture of this place and the beauty of the nature will influence these executives’ ability to be more genuine with each other and make better big picture decisions.
These are just some of the things I am aware of - there is so much more. Individuals, neighbours, who are stepping up to get something done at all levels of scale. All it takes is a simple step, as Mother Teresa says to “do small things with great love”, and then follow it forward wth a next step.
More from the diary:
“I want to be involved in creating the new, set the new patterns, experiment on the edge of human potential. I do not want some hippy commune; it has to be REAL, rooted in the real problems of the world, working together with local community. So much of what is happening in the world leaves people feeling powerless. What would it mean for us to create a place, which restored people’s sense of dignity and power? A place that makes visible peoples greatness to themselves and their communities.”
It is all very aspirational isn’t it? Maybe even a bit naive? As I read these diaries now I realize that I have had much of my vision tempered by the reality of trying to get change done in a pretty conservative province. However, I can’t help but find a part of me stirring in response to my younger voice. That, in essence, what I was pointing at here is true and good. We do have an opportunity here in Nova Scotia that is not afforded to many places. We are small enough (under a million people) and isolated enough to do something audacious. Why not?
And why not start here in Lunenburg County? This incredible gem of a place within the bounds of Nova Scotia. We are 47,000 people living and working within the inspiration of outstanding natural beauty. I am surrounded daily by creative artists, entrepreneurial business people, active community leaders and deep spiritual practitioners. We have kids in our schools, we have jobs available in our economy and we have elders actively supporting the next generation. It’s all here. Right now.
Last words from the diary:
“I want my kids to grow up in place as unpolluted as possible by all the bullshit in the world. But not cut off, not a separate little haven, a place which learns through its dealing with the larger world. A place which learns by meeting the madness and using it as a mirror for its own growth. Learning from the faults of the larger world, to create a different pattern. Who are we learning on behalf of? I think we, and many that I know all over the world, are learning on behalf of humanity. We have been given a wonderful opportunity to give a great gift to our children.”