Reflections on a Thanks Giving Weekend

Being grateful every day is always a good practice for wellbeing, this weekend is an extra special time to take some reflection time.

So here I go.

As I listen to the news, I am truly grateful that we live where we do – in a democracy that works, in a place where we can talk out ideas and a place where our fellow citizens understand that our collective wellbeing is important to our personal wellbeing.

Every day, I get feedback that it is important to strengthen our culture of taking personal responsibility for the wellbeing of each other. Aren’t we lucky that we have the luxury of holding these kind of thoughts?

I am lucky that I can be optimistic about my grandchildren’s future because in spite of other people’s agendas, common sense and good will still prevails.

And Most of all, I am grateful that I have the opportunity to make a difference through the Happy Community Project. … Read the rest

“If you paint your house….”

Anna Allen’s story By Fadila Chater

Mayor Anna Allen sits in her office, overlooking King Street in Windsor. I have a seat in front of her and she asks me how I’m doing. Her friendly smile and welcoming demeanor put me at ease. A few hours earlier, my stomach was turning. My nerves got the best of me. It’s not every day you get to interview the mayor of your hometown. And, as a journalist, it’s rare that they welcome you without hesitation. But that’s just who Anna is. She’s a people person. It’s her job. But, unlike other politicians, her friendliness isn’t faked or disingenuous. She isn’t in it for the fame or notoriety. She simply cares.  

Anna has lived in Windsor for most of her life. Though, for a time she felt like an outsider. To many people, the 10-kilometer difference between Hantsport and Windsor meant she was from away, a newcomer. Though, feelings of isolation soon changed … Read the rest

Go Together

Will Webster’s Story by Fadila Chater

Will Webster stutters. He’s stuttered for as long as he can remember. It’s often the first thing he’ll mention when getting to know people. Not because he’s looking for pity. But because he believes everyone deserves to be understood.

Though, it would be a lie to say his stutter never embarrassed him.

“I’m still kind of haunted by experiences of being laughed at and people being impatient with me for not being able to spit it out,” he says. Will sits with his wife Anne at their home in Bedford, Nova Scotia. They eat their lunch, a fresh chef’s salad, together on their patio. Anne, a gentle and soft-spoken woman, apologizes for eating during our interview. I say it’s no bother at all. It was a warm summer day and the pair had been renovating their kitchen all morning. They had missed lunch and were just catching their meal as I knocked on the … Read the rest

The Eagle:

Dianne Levy’s story
By Fadila Chater 

Dianne Levy sits on a bench overlooking Lake Pisiquid in Windsor, Nova Scotia. It’s mid-afternoon and a cool breeze keeps the flies at bay just long enough to enjoy relief from the hot sun. An eagle appears overhead and Dianne is overcome with joy and awe. She explains that eagles, in Buddhism and other world religions, is an auspicious sign. I later come to learn that Eagles are a symbol of the human spirit, as they are known to fly to the highest altitudes, and therefore closer to the creator. The massive bird flies into the horizon and Dianne and I continue our conversation. But the encounter with the eagle lingers in my mind.  

“I think things happen for a reason,” she says. 

Dianne smiles as she talks about the activity that she and the Windsor Recreation Department put together this morning. Chalk the Causeway was a big success. Hundreds of young families from … Read the rest

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