Saturday, May 2, 2015

Nova Scotia's Slow Change Movement

You may have heard of the Slow Food movement or the Slow Fashion movement, Slow Living, Slow Farming....   These are all movements that embrace the concept that anything worth doing is worth doing well.   Fast doesn't last.   The joy is in the journey.  You get the point, right?    Nova Scotia has its very own slow movement and it's called the Slow Change movement.

Nova Scotia has a special set of challenges in front of it.  We have an aging population and a lack of decent paying jobs has sparked a mass exodus of our youth.  A tiny population means higher taxes.   So, a couple of years ago, our provincial government commissioned a report from a man named Ray Ivany.  It is full of all kinds of wonderful recommendations to save our beautiful province from ruin.  It's rallying cry is NOW OR NEVER.  The entrepreneurs went wild, the town councils all wrote pretty reports, a call to action was heeded  and where are we now two years later?  Further behind.  The old are getting older, the young are still leaving and the entrepreneurs who according to Mr. Ivany will be the saviors of this province are tripping over  stumbling blocks at every turn.  Stumbling blocks put in place by our own government.

The rallying cry was NOW OR NEVER.  It took Nova Scotia two years to respond, but the answer has been loud and clear....Not so fast, Sonny.  Don't get your knickers in a knot.  That's not the way we do things around here. 

I hope I'm not making it sound like I disapprove because while I desperately want change and wish it could happen faster, I am learning that Nova Scotia has its own pace and we can scream NOW OR NEVER till the cows come home, but Nova Scotia will not be rushed. 

 I'm going to intersperse the rest of my words with photographs of the incredible town I call home because this is why I will learn to be patient. 
Just about every morning in Lunenburg begins like this, muted, soft, sometimes grey and then, often, slowly, slowly, the fog lifts, the clouds drift and suddenly, we have glorious blue skies. It has taken me years to stop looking out the window in the morning to determine what sort of day it will be.  Nova Scotia days unfold.  Slowly.

 This is what spring looks like in Lunenburg.  I think you get my point here.
We wail, we lament, we complain and then, slowly, slowly, the back harbour melts.

Before moving to Nova Scotia, I spent five years in New York's Hudson Valley.  There is winter and then there is summer.  One day the flowers simply open.  Instantly.  You pack up the winter clothes and pull out the summer ones.  

That's not the way we roll here in Nova Scotia.  One day you might take your mittens off and then you might take off one of your coats or find that you are not wearing your coat in your house.  Sometime in June you might only need a sweater and then, glory be, in July and August you will pack up the winter clothes, but not bury them too deeply in the attic.

I have learned to search for signs of Spring by looking up and often the signs can be heard before they can be seen.  I love every painful, tedious and drawn out moment.  Spring  is a slow, sensual unfolding.  This is the way change happens in Nova Scotia.  One step forward, two steps back.  Beautiful sunny day and then a snow storm, followed by another sunny day.

Stand in line at a Nova Scotia Bank and you will witness the true pace of this province.  If you are anything like me you will be driven to both tears of rage and tears of love and compassion in your 30 minute wait.  and that's if there are two people in front of you.  Because Mabel will be telling the teller (that's why they call them tellers)  all about her sister's son who got himself a fancy job on Bay Street in Toronto and how her dog has a nasty case of the runs and just when you see a glimmer of hope that the conversation may be coming to an end the teller will ask her another question about her grandchildren.

But it works both ways because when I go to the post office to pick up my mail, my dog forces everyone in line to wait while the folks behind the counter give him his treat and a scratch behind the ears.  This is just the pace of life here.  
Slow as it may be, Nova Scotia is filled with Hallelujah moments.  Whether it's the view as you turn the bend, the blue summer skies or the autumn light, there is always a reward for a tough winter, a slow spring a long line up or Slow Change.

So, yes, I believe that necessary change will SLOWLY happen in Nova Scotia, but I think the Ivany Report's rallying cry of NOW OR NEVER just doesn't meld with the spirit of the province.  How about this instead, After you tell me about your gall bladder surgery,  your no good son in law, we have thoroughly discussed the weather and my dog has been given his biscuit we get around to making some necessary changes.