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NCDD Member’s Work Featured in Progress Magazine

We were pleased to see that the work of one of our newest NCDD members, Tim Merry of the Art of Hosting community, was featured in the latest issue of Progress Magazine. Tim recently helped guide a public engagement process for a number of new public buildings in Halifax, Nova Scotia: the Nova Centre, Halifax Central Library, and the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. And as the article details, the new buildings are more than just that:

 …these are more than just structures. They are fusions of ideas, dreams, and desires captured in a series of unique public-engagement activities. Their designs, from construction materials to landscape features, were shaped by comprehensive consultation processes that not only welcomed but also actively sought community input.

That consultation process was the result of a collaboration between Tim and Halifax city officials committed to engaging and collaborating with the city’s residents to really make the new buildings theirs. The engagement process was anything but ordinary:

The consultation processes merged both traditional and unconventional methods of public engagement to identify what Haligonians wanted in these buildings. From community gatherings to pop-up public-space dialogues—a strategy that aims to connect with people on the streets or in public spaces—these meetings and conferences offered residents multiple opportunities to participate both face-to-face and online. All of the meetings were live streamed. Participants exchanged views through social media, and websites acted as platforms to make public opinion visible and inform dialogue.

Many of the principles that Tim drew on for the Halifax effort are practices that are taught in the growing Art of Hosting community. One of the newer members of that community, Amanda Hachey, commented in the article on the AoH process:

Recently named one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 Emerging Leaders, Hachey was introduced to Art of Hosting when she was in Sweden pursuing a master’s degree in sustainability. She admits that she went from thinking the process was “flaky” to believing it was visionary… Hachey has since applied Art of Hosting’s conversational processes to a wide range of functions that she has facilitated, from visioning a marketing plan for organic farmers to action planning at the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council’s AGM. Indeed, the co-op she helped co-found, La Bikery, was created in typical Art of Hosting fashion, evolving from a dinner-table discussion among friends to an organization that represents more than 350 members.

We encourage you to read the full article on Tim’s work with Halifax at www.progressmedia.ca/article/2014/04/hosting-with-heart-0, and we hope the more of our NCDD members will familiarize themselves with the Art of Hosting processes. As we recently highlighted, NCDD members can receive a discount on AoH trainings, and are encouraged to share their experiences with them afterward.

As work like Tim’s continues to thrive, we are optimistic that participatory democratic processes like the one in Halifax and those NCDD members build and engage in every day will continue to occupy more mainstream space. Onward!

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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