NouLAB Works With “Between the Bridges- Inspiring Communities” on Collective Impact

April 12, 2019 | by: Heather Boyd-Kinnie

The challenges of quality and affordable housing in Halifax Regional Municipality have been present in the area of Dartmouth North for many, many years. Inadequate and unaffordable expensive housing have called for new approaches to addressing the issues. Between the Bridges, a project of a non-profit group called Inspiring Communities, is situated in the heart of the area most in need. To help with the housing portion of their work, Between the Bridges reached out to NouLAB to host a Social Lab process with a multi-stakeholder group consisting of residents, landlords, provincial planners, government representatives on the municipal and provincial levels.

Over the course of 6 days of lab processes, including visits to the community, NouLAB supported the development of 3 distinct teams around themes that interested the members to learn more.  One team is working on building Tiny Homes that would enable increased quality and independent housing options. Another team is developing a navigator position that will allow small business owners and landlords to access the information they need to build and operate more affordable housing. A third team is working to build a program on how to access municipal land and make community space in the area to increase neighbourhood values and connections. The level of engagement and energy in the room was noted by everyone. NouLAB will be keeping a close eye to see how the projects develop.

An interesting note is that Between the Bridges and two other communities in Nova Scotia are utilizing a framework called Collective Impact that works from the principle that complex issues like housing can only be effectively addressed when you bring people with lived-experience around the same planning and decision making tables with leadership from related government, non-profit and business entities.  Collective impact has been around for over a decade, and not unlike the Social Labs model, values the emergent nature of innovation and the need for collaboration. Through the experience with the Between the Bridges project, there are some significant learnings on how the two models can work together.

Please stay tuned to hear how the work evolves in the coming months and years.

 

Written by Lewis Muirhead, NouLAB Knowledge Manager

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