ANTIGONISH: In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Antigonish Movement and the 90th anniversary of the StFX Extension Department, the department introduced an event that honoured its history, while also looking toward the future.
In partnership with the Coady International Institute, the StFX Extension Department hosted a Social Innovation Lab: The Future of our Collective Work, on November 3 at the Markin Global Complex.
The day-long workshop focused on the changing world of work and explored what the future of work could look like for Nova Scotia. Attendees were encouraged to share their knowledge, learn from others, and work towards solutions to help co-create a future that works for all of us.
Dr. June Webber, director of the Coady Institute said as she was reflecting on how to start the discussion, it was by recognizing that this is a platform discussion, that we must all recognize as being formally critical to where we are at this point in time.
“Now as we see the forces of capitalism and technology, we need to recognize the way we look at work is evolving,” she said addressing the group of 25 people. “There really was no better way to start this discussion than with the play Tompkinsville , as it captured a similar series of discussions 100-years-ago as very in-humane approaches to industrial forces were eroding the capacities and opportunities of the population.”
Ripe with East Coast humor, Tompkinsville showcased the journey of Joe Laben on his quest to get a home for his family – a quest that leads him to become more than he ever dreamed he could be. The play also focuses on Nova Scotia’s Father Jimmy Tompkins’ role in shining the light of education and the co-operative model into the lives of Reserve Mines’ residents engulfed in socio-economic struggle.
Father Tompkins is one of the pioneers of the Antigonish Movement, which emerged as a response to the extreme poverty afflicting Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore; a movement that eventually spread across Canada and beyond.
Webber said one of the most critical lessons from Tompkinsville , all having to step in together, is to some extent part of what they’re trying to build on.
“Recognizing that there is an opportunity for us to look at the bigger picture and think through how we can identify the critical discussions we’d like to start having moving forward,” she said.
Jess Popp, Coordinator of Stakeholder Engagement with StFX’s Centre for Employment Innovation, said the social innovation lab acts as a learning journey and is about bringing people together to start their journeys.
“We’re going to recognize the process of relationship building, trying to create a strong foundation, so that we can move forward in a collective and collaborative way,” she said. “We’re trying to create serious conversations across communities, to facilitate discussions around what assets and strengths we have as communities and what we can do together to really make a difference.”
We’re striving to understand at the local level how we can best prepare and drive a future that works for everyone in our province, Popp said.
“Over time the sessions will progress from sharing knowledge and building relationships, to re-difining complex challenges as a collective and identifying opportunities, to co-developing and experimenting with a range of creative solutions.”
The morning started with a storytelling exercise, in which Popp said the intent was to explore participants’ past successes and innovations brought about when approaching a challenge in a new way.
“The stories ranged in topic but their outcomes often shared a common thread – these themes and commonalities are important when exploring complex challenges relating to the future,” she said. “Building upon the themes that arose from the stories, community members also discussed how we might create more environments that foster our ability to approach challenges in new ways.”
In the afternoon, they hosted an open space, whereby participants were asked to host conversations of importance to them.
“This space allowed for valuable input and perspectives to be raised on any issue relating to the future of our collective work and how we might approach these conversations in the future.”
Popp said these events provide an opportunity for us to collaboratively address economic, environmental, and social challenges change together.
“We all play a part in our province’s growth and success, and it will be through our collective, collaborative efforts—with each other and others in our communities—that we will be able to shape a future that truly works for all.”