I have lived in East Hants for the past year of my life, and maybe it’s the fact that I work for a small town paper, but many of my story leads and key phrases all tend to contain or focus in on the idea and happenings of ‘community’.
There has never been a shortage of events or stories focusing on the generosity of several communities in East Hants, Musquodoboit Valley, and part of HRM. I’ve seen adults with full time jobs, families, and active social lives devote weeks of their time and their own dollars to events for children and adults. Haunted houses, music filled afternoons, crafting circles, art shows, and Christmas tree lightings—complete with Santas and Styrofoam cups of hot chocolate.
There have also been stories about how communities react to tragedy, and how people, strangers, neighbours, and friends reinforce their bonds when help is needed. I’ve witness organizations raise money and hold auctions so that people afflicted with MS can travel abroad to achieve some potential relief from crippling symptoms. I’ve spoken with the people behind the scenes, who are not sure what to do with their gratitude. The help they’ve received is so much more than they ever expected they feel almost undeserving.
I’ve seen retired individuals take up second ‘careers’, becoming the voice, the go-to people for local food banks, at the risk of their own exhaustion and sanity. I’ve seen employees of adult education and alternate transportation societies to humble to speak about how their fervor and dedication speaks above and beyond their call of duty. These individuals are dedicated beyond comprehension to those that many of us forget about. Not everyone is well fed, or has family members to look after them. Not everyone was able to go through life in a methodical way.
I’ve seen unspoken tension between communities, families, and residents. Sometimes it’s a vibe from a long standing feud, sometimes between neighbours and friends, sometimes between insiders and outsiders. I can’t say I haven’t been privy to this myself.
Still, there is an underlying, unspoken sense of responsibility to help when it’s a necessity. Friends to enemies, annoying neighbours to rowdy teens. As soon there is someone who needs a hand, there is someone a few feet away, willing to lend one.
The communities here have taught me a lot: good and bad. Maybe the most recent testament to this is an awareness project at Hants East Rural High School in Milford. The social activist club garnered the support of the school and the community to collect 800 pairs of shoes to pile in front of the school on to represents a lost life or limb of a child to a landmine.
In this act, students gathered the help of the community to look outside its own parameters, while still focusing on the people that they see on a daily basis. Let’s not take each other for granted, no matter where we’ve come from, where we may be going, what mistakes we may have made in the past.
I hope everyone continues to learn, appreciate, and give as much to and from each other as I have learned from you.