Garden of Eden – Sean and Erika’s Story

By Fadila Chater 

Sean, Erika and Family

I pull into the driveway and see two white-haired cherubs dressed in pajamas playing in the tall grass.  

“Hi!” one sings to me. 

“Hello there,” I respond. 

Her hair shimmers like a million silk strands on a sunlit loom. A tall man in a wicker hat appears behind them.  

“Hey, how’s it going,” he says.  

“Good! How are you? I hope I’m okay to park here,” I say. 

He nods his head yes. I look for the keys to lock my doors, but he tells me there’s really no need.  

Sean MacDonald and his little girls, Clara, 6 and Lily, 4, lead me to their backyard. I’m taken aback by the beauty and serenity of what I see; tall, luscious grass that rolls down a hill overlooking the expansive Nova Scotian countryside. I turn my head to see a brood of hens behind a chicken wire fence. We sit at the picnic table … Read the rest

A global village:

Md Zaman Khan’s story 
By Fadila Chater 

Md Zaman Khan rummages through the refuse that’s polluting his beloved city of Kolkata, India. In his hands are dirt-caked plastics and food wrappers. The hot sun beats down on his back and pearls of sweat form on his forehead. Focusing on the ground in front of him, he feels the sharp gaze of disapproving and puzzled looks on his back. Why was a young, middleclass man, the son of an engineer, picking up garbage off the street like a beggar? Nevertheless, the 22-year-old continues picking up trash, despite how ridiculous or improper he appears to others on the street.  

“Look, these guys are doing great work.” 

Stunned, Zaman looks up and sees a child, no older than five- or six-years-old. The boy tightly grasps his mother’s hand; the way an elephant grasps his mother’s tail with his trunk.  

“This is why I send you to school,” the … Read the rest

Coming Out of Her Shell, Jessica Patenaude

By Fadila Chater

Jessica Patinaude

The backpack flew past Robert’s head. He turned around and saw his daughter, Jessica, standing on the bus. Tears streamed down her cheeks. It was the first day of Kindergarten and his timid five-year-old was terrified. 

The backpack flew past Robert’s head. He turned around and saw his daughter, Jessica, standing on the bus. Tears streamed down her cheeks. It was the first day of Kindergarten and his timid five-year-old was terrified. 

He picked up her backpack and jumped onto the bus. He did what any good father would do, sat down beside herand rode the bus all the way to his daughter’s school. That was the first and last time Jessica rode the bus that year. 

“I was a really shy child, like, too the max,” Jessica says, sitting in her office at the Windsor Recreation Centre. Now she’s 20 years old, a community development student at Acadia University and working as a manager … Read the rest

A Little Help From My Friends: Ann Knowles

Ann Knowles
“How would you like to go to Africa?” Bill Thomson asked his children at breakfast. It was 1969. Bill’s daughter, Ann, was 16-years-old and just finishing up driving lessons on her parents’ convertible. 
“Oh, yeah… neat,” she said, thinking it was another one of her father’s travel fantasies. Days later, Ann’s bags were packed for South Africa. 
“Sixteen years old, just learning how to drive, had a convertible, and we were going to Africa?” Ann says, now 66-years-old, sitting in her Windsor home decades later. “That was a shocker.” 
Bill had itchy feet. He was a civil engineer and town planner. His interest in housing development led him to lecturing opportunities at universities all over the world. The Thomsons were never in one place for too long. 
“I grew up all over the place. We were in Britain and we were in South Africa and Lesotho, and New Brunswick and Winnipeg,” Ann says.  
After Ann got her teaching
Read the rest

Rain and wind were no match for the ‘umbrella’ of community-building locals at Sunday market re-opening

By Fadila Chater

Windsor, N.S. — Just when it seemed summer was upon us, cold spring rain made a roaring return on Sunday as vendors at Avon Community Farmers’ Market set up shop at Victoria Park in Windsor.

But the heavy showers didn’t put a damper on what vendors would call the beginning of summer at the seasonal market, which runs from June to October, rain or shine.

With live music, sweet treats, coffee and artisanal goods, the market was hard to miss. And it got the attention of dozens of locals, including Deputy Mayor Laurie Murley, who stopped by to stock up on fresh greens.

“We have lovely music here today, which makes it a celebratory atmosphere,” said Murley. “You can see the smiles on people’s faces. They’re greeting each other and people are happy to be here. That’s what community is.”

Dozens of people weaved in and out of kiosks – children, dogs and even a parrot in … Read the rest

Our Goals for 2109

We recently had a meeting with the Happy Community Project Core Group to look at what we have accomplished in 2018 and make some goals for the coming year. We have accomplished a lot – and we have listened to what our neighbours are telling us they want for our community. What we have heard are two big things. We have heard:

  •          thank you – keep doing more of what the Happy Community Project does in building social connections across our community
  •         help us replace the culture of divisiveness with a culture of unity

So that’s what we are going to do.

Building Social Connectedness

We are going to continue to support the Farmers Market, Community Gardens, Community Farm, Ellershouse Breakfast, Movies in the Park, Welcome Newcomers, Greatest Picnic Ever, Corn Boil Challenge, Grab a Meal as well as launch My Community Kitchen Party and Adopt a Grandparent. In addition to these incredible projects, several citizens have come … Read the rest

My Hopes for a New Year

Optimistic Thoughts for a New Year

 I recently heard a radio show about what we could be optimistic about. Every day we are bombarded with news that shows that our future is uncertain. In the face of this unrelenting torrent, it is sometimes difficult to be optimistic. Yet, what is there without hope?

A Dream of Hope

I created the Happy Community Project™ because I am hopeful that we, the real and ordinary people of our world, do not have to passively accept a fate designed by others. That we can create a new destiny of self-reliance, wellbeing and resiliency.  It is founded on the simple idea that when we are socially connected across our diversity, we will take care of each other. Our rallying cry is, “There is no they should…., only we should….”

The Happy Community Project™ is barely one year old and it has proven that my hope is well founded. Most people want to make a Read the rest

A Matter of Trust

The Happy Community Project™ has been an incredible learning experience. Last week at a community meeting- we came face to face with a profound question – when did we become a society that places fear before trust? – and is this really the kind of society we want to be?

Twenty people were in a circle discussing how we’ could give more support to our caregivers. It was a recognition of how we have engineered our society to place incredible crazy demands on caregivers. Often these demands make it hard if not impossible for them to participate in normal community events. As one woman said “I am a finely tuned machine where every moment is accounted for. I can only stay 20 minutes and then I have to go get kids.” And then she got up and reluctantly left.

So the question was; how could we as a community help caregivers like her have more time? And was it even … Read the rest

Windsor West Hants shows what a happy community does.

It’s been a while since I have written and although we have had a long, hot, lazy summer, a lot has happened in Windsor West Hants.

What has been happening

The Avon Community Farmers Market is a great success with over twenty vendors providing a reason for hundreds of citizens to slow down and mingle with each other every Sunday between 10 and 2.
Laura Meldrum and her team have done a fantastic job of giving our community Films in the Park. The last one attracted 70 people to an old fashioned outdoor movie.
Makers has provided us with an awesome facility to come together, learn together and do together.

The community garden folks have are growing 2 acres of food for the food bank plus providing 8 plots of garden for folks in Windsor.

The Ellershouse Breakfast attracts up to 300 people on the last Saturday of every month to … Read the rest

You Can’t Keep a Good Idea Down

The thing about good ideas is you never know where they will show up next. They seem to have a life of their own.

When we were first exploring the ideas behind the Happy Community Project, we did some trial projects in Sackville Nova Scotia and in Needham in the North End of Halifax. We learned a lot in these projects and then took our learnings to Windsor NS. It has been a great success and has caught the attention of several universities, government agencies and research institutes.

In the meantime, we put both Sackville and Needham on hold. 7 months later, both Needham and Sackville have come back to life. Sackville is planning a major new launch on May the 7th led by Jason Craig. And Pauline Peters, Charles Bull and Brian Fraser have taken the ideas and reworked them into a potluck which brings the citizens of the Northern part of North end Halifax together for potluck dinners. … Read the rest