Facebook Links – Weekly Round-up

Kitty corner. I merely rent desk space from her.

Before I bought the domain name “dreambigcapebreton.com” this past January, and started this blog, I created a group with the same name, on Facebook, to connect with other young people in Cape Breton. My original purpose for it was just to have a way to mass-message people to get in touch for a little interview project I was thinking of doing, but the Facebook group took on a life of its own and swiftly became a forum for people to share ideas and events, and comment on each other’s notes.

It was that Facebook group that told me I was onto something. That there ARE lots of awesome young and not-so-young people who live here, who are interested in building even stronger communities, and in sharing information with each other. So, after seeing all the interaction on the Facebook group, starting this blog wasn’t that much of a risk.

A screenshot of my Facebook home, and the groups I'm part of on the side.

There are those who are Facebook-phobic, however, and I understand some of the reasons why people might not want to join it. Even though I’ve been using Facebook since 2006, I once deactivated my account and left it that way for six months. But, I use it now. I find it really useful.

If you are interested in checking out Facebook for things like groups and to find out about events, but overall you really don’t like the thought of Facebook, consider that you can sign up to Facebook under a fake name, you don’t have to put a profile picture or any other information on your account, and you don’t have to add any friends either. (Which will be easy if you’re using a fake name.)

As well, if you do want to use it as yourself, keep in mind that many social anxieties associated with Facebook are largely in our minds. We can worry that so-and-so asked us to be their Facebook friend and we don’t want to, and what will they think of us? But, likely they aren’t giving it a second thought!

If you’re on Facebook and you’d like to join the group, just search Facebook for “Dream Big Cape Breton” and click on “Request to join group”. I usually get the notification very quickly and will add you.

My workspace at the moment. That blank calendar is just a smokescreen - the one full of scribbles and events is tucked away.

I thought it would make an interesting weekly feature on the blog to round up the different links that people post on the Facebook group. So without further ado, here is what people have shared lately:

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Signs of the Times – A Trip to North Shore

This sign, erected next to St Ann's Bay on the Cabot Trail, declares that St. Ann's Bay and North Shore were awarded the Lieutenant Governer's Community Spirit Award, in 2011.

Last Friday I had to drive from my home in Baddeck to Wreck Cove for a meeting. I’m on the board of directors for the Cabot Trail Writers Festival, and myself and another board member are working on a project for the festival, voluntarily, in our own time. I agreed to drive to her home, and I also scheduled an interview with Sarah Beck of Wildfire Pottery (North Shore) for that afternoon. (That interview will be up sometime this month.) Gas is expensive these days, so if I can combine trips, I’m happy.

The Englishtown Ferry was not operating, so I had to drive around the St Ann’s Bay loop. (This is a local debate, I think – whether or not it saves time to drive around the loop or wait for the ferry.)

I stopped along the Cabot Trail at the Gaelic Singers’ Hall to take a few photos. I believe this hall used to be called the Alexander Smith Hall. I don’t know who Alexander Smith was, other than an area resident. What do you do to get a hall named after you? (I have a feeling some readers know.)

Can you see the Gaelic flag?

This is my "it's cold out and I'm taking my own picture by the side of the road, I'm such a dork!" face.

A few years ago they started putting up some road signs in English and Gaelic. Again, I don’t know much about this initiative. I also don’t know much about pronouncing the Gaelic names! I get a kick out of making up pronunciations for them, and saying them aloud, while driving along.

When I got down to Wreck Cove the view out to sea was of a big mass of pack ice.

Pack ice at sea.

After my meeting with the fellow board member, and a hot cup of Rooibos tea, I headed back towards Baddeck, stopping in North Shore at Wildfire Pottery and Books, which is the brainchild and business of Sarah Beck. In the winter, on Friday afternoons, she and some fellow community members who like words get together in a room above the store for a “salon”, where they read written pieces aloud and talk about them, while drinking delicious coffee and eating snacks. Before they all arrived, I got a chance to sit down with Sarah by a fireplace and have an interview. (You’ll get to read that in a week or two!) We shared a picnic lunch – bread, rice crackers, hummous and cherry tomatoes – and discovered we are both big fans of dill pickles. That’s one way to instantly become my best friend – sharing a jar of crunchy, garlicky dill pickles.

A cozy fire is lit within. I hear they also serve dill pickles!

And then, after taking part in the salon, I made my way homeward, over the bumpy roads. My thirteen-year-old vehicle appreciated the smooth patches where the road is being redone, but all in all the bumps made me go “what the heck!?!” As in, this is our prime tourist driving route, and the bumps are so bad I could be in Bosnia?


This week, watch the blog for: a round-up of interesting links and events that are shared on the Facebook group each week, as well as the Frugal Friday column, and a new column by Erin Phillips about libraries and community-building! Exciting times!

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The Luthier and the Librarian: Brian Dean and Erin Phillips

Brian Dean and Erin Phillips and their 4-month-old daughter, Miriel.

Brian Dean and Erin Phillips live in Whitney Pier with their 4-month old daughter, Miriel. On one of the coldest days of the so-far mild winter, Feb 13th , I drive through Sydney and out to the Pier for a visit. Erin meets me at the door with the baby bound to her chest by a cloth sling, and wearing a pretty eggplant-colored cotton dress and black leggings. Their old home, made comfortable with second-hand vintage furniture, colorful artwork and lots of healthy green plants, is warm inside on the cold afternoon. Brian comes down the stairs from his third-floor workshop to say hello, and I follow him back up to begin the tour.

Brian in his attic workshop.

The attic steps open up into a cozy workshop – there are two big freestanding workbenches and another wrapped around the brick chimney. Tools, wood shavings, blocks of wood, and mandolins in various stages of completion make up the scene. The room is obviously still under renovation, with insulation visible under plastic in parts of the ceiling and walls, but it is also neatly organized and home to a dedicated craftsman.

Brian: “I’ve slowly made this attic space into one big room. It’s taken three years… it wasn’t insulated til recently. And just below these crossmembers here used to be the ceiling, now it goes all the way up. It used to lose a tonne of air, it was really hard to keep it air-conditioned or heated. I’ve always got a dehumidifier, and a humidifier running, depending on the season! The humidity is always constant for the job I’ve got to do.”

A thin piece of wood just resting on top of the bowl-shaped mold.

I look around the shop and have Brian show me the process of building a mandolin. He starts with drawings, then saws thin pieces of wood and shapes them, securing them together on various moulds to create different bowl shapes. He’ll then brace a spruce top and attach it to the bowl, decorate it with bindings, and attach the fretboard. It is a two-month process to the completed instrument.

If it weren’t for the Internet, Brian wouldn’t be able to live here. (You can see his website here.) “It’s true, there’s not that much work here. It’s hard to find. You have to make your own… opportunities. That’s not such a bad thing, who doesn’t want to make their own schedule in life?”

Brian grew up in Virginia. At age 8 he attended an art school one day a week, in addition to his public school classes. In High School he took wood shop, and learned some rudimentary carpentry skills. “And then I went to college. I was going to do engineering, because I wanted to use my brain, but then I started thinking about all those hours spent indoors, sitting in front of a computer, under fluorescent lights, being still. And…I was in the middle of the Appalachian forest at that point, and I discovered the outdoors. And I discovered folk culture. Music was a huge influence for me.”

Religious art that belonged to Brian's grandfather, who was from Greece, hangs next to Brian's tools.

Brian continued on the base he’d built in high school, and signed up for a course that allowed him free access to the university’s woodworking and metal shops. There he built working, Medieval replica crossbows, some walnut end-tables, and eventually his first musical instrument – an Irish harp.

Over the next few years Brian would end up emigrating to Canada to live in Montreal, where he would eventually meet Erin, who grew up in Brighton, Ontario. Brian did carpentry for a time with Cirque de Soleil building sets, before being able to strike out on his own as a luthier. He says, “A lot of people have a romance with luthiery. But… it takes a lot of practice. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. A lot of those hours were unpaid in my case, it’s not a free ride. Rather it’s a lot like an investment – but you have to put in the time if you want to be free.” Much of Brian’s inspiration came from his time spent living in Old Montreal. “You’ve got to find something that lights your fire.. In my case, it was this culture that put me in touch with my European roots.”

Mirel in her vibrating baby chair.

We head back downstairs where Erin has made a pot of mint tea and I bring out the plate of brownies I made. Miriel hangs out in a vibrating baby chair or on either of her parents’ laps, throughout the interview, eventually falling asleep as Brian softly jiggles the knee that she sits on.

They tell me about how they came to live here.

Brian: “We were in Ontario at the time. We discovered we weren’t very welcome in the small, isolated community we were in. They were very suspect of out-of-towners. They viewed us as temporary there even though Erin had a respectable job in the community. We had this one neighbor give us a lot of flak for not cutting our grass, even though we lived way out in the country. But, I wasn’t really interested in moving, since we just moved the year before. And we had our own lake, our own dock.”

Erin: “But you weren’t interested in staying, either!”

Brian: “I would have, if the community had welcomed us. And, except for the price of living. It was, you know, Ontario cottage country. It was cheaper to rent than to own, so we would never actually have our own place. So Erin looked for jobs and found one here [with the Cape Breton Regional Library]. And we knew a little bit about the Maritimes, because we had already visited PEI the year before, where we ended up camping at a fiddle fest with a bunch of Cape Bretoners. They were the rowdiest, most fun people at the festival! They all seemed to have farms, land. They weren’t rich people, just average people. This one guy said “I have to go home to feed my chickens!” And in Ontario you practically have to be rich, or inherit land, to live like that.”

The road their home is on.

The house they are in is the first one they looked at. It was a fixer-upper, but Brian is handy, and it was right on a bus route to Erin’s workplace. Their mortgage is also only about 15% of their total income, they estimate. “Versus on average 35-40% for most people. We’re going to have it paid off in 3 to 4 years. I mean, we’re on a tight budget, we’re very aware of our money. But, still. It’s possible to do that here – homes are pretty affordable.”

Whitney Pier is a former industrial community, very close to the site of the former steel plant. The community has been here for about 150 years, and has always been a mix of cultures, immigrants who came to Sydney to work. Brian and Erin find it is a friendly place to live. While we were chatting, two neighbor boys, around ten years old, came and knocked at the door, asking to go out into Brian and Erin’s backyard to play with the two dogs. “Not today,” Brian said, “We’re busy.” “They come pretty much every day,” said Erin. “It’s cute.”

I ask them if they see themselves still here in ten years.Erin: “We’d like to be, but it depends – on where things go. I feel like right now things are progressing in the way we want them to be progressing. We’re meeting new people… You know, things do seem to be happening, like the downtown farmers market, this work that you’re doing [the Dream Big project]. There does seem to be a sense of community building. The kind of community we want to be a part of. It really sort of depends on how things go.”

Brian: “I think we play, people like us, we play a role – and it’s that of… not just waiting to see if it happens, but actually getting in there and helping create this infrastructure of change. For me, it’s a lot about the business aspect of things. I mean, it’s great to have community initiatives, but so much of what we do or don’t do comes down to our either having or not having the funds to make our ideas into reality. We’ve got to find ways of attracting and keeping more business in our downtown – family-run businesses, with a solid foot in the community, not in Toronto. Like an artisanal bakery – we don’t even have one in our downtown core! It’s really simple stuff, not at all out of reach. Either someone else is going to start it or in 10 years I’d like to.”

I ask him, “What are some of the things that you would do to help people start their own businesses?”

Proud mama and papa.

Brian: “I don’t think there’s anything you can do besides getting people educate themselves in business, and put their energy towards making it reality. You don’t even need a lot of money – a good idea finds its own capital. And you know, I’m all for social programs as well, but I do find Cape Breton more reliant on government than most places I’ve been, and I do see it as a stumbling block. Social initiatives are one of the things I love about Canada, but too much government involvement and you’ve got a broken system… you know, if someone is insulated from risk, from responsibility, they just don’t grow. We’ve all got to learn to stand on our own two feet and make mistakes, on our own initiative. There are of course business schools right here in Cape Breton, that will help people learn about and manage risk. First you’ve got to want it, then you’ve got to go out and get it. Success will follow naturally when you love what you do and when you’ve got the money management.”

Erin: “There’s that history here of the one industry too… if it’s always been a one-industry city, then people are always looking for the one industry to save them. And that’s why we get all this negativity in the news… because people are so down, because there aren’t many jobs. That’s understandable. But we need more… entrepreneurial spirit. And exposure to other areas, what people are doing in other areas.”

Brian mentions how twenty-five, thirty years ago Quebec wasn’t known for its cheeses the way it is now. “What did they do in the last twenty years, to get all that? Well, they found an identification with the French culture. Once the cultural revolution started in Quebec… you know, the pride in their culture after they won back more of their rights in the 70s. They got in touch with their roots. They became proud of who they were. And you know, one of the indications I see around here, that people still aren’t proud of who they are, is the litter people leave around. When you’re proud of who you are, you take care of your surroundings, your island. There seems to be a lack of self-respect in some cases, I don’t know.”

“Now, how can that change? I don’t know. Maybe because of the history, the roots, Scotland is the place to look? Else we could just be proud to be Cape Breton. It really is an amazing, amazing place to live. Sometimes you have to be away from what you know before you come to respect what you have right there in your hand.”

We talked a bit about how stress and difficult times are necessary to growth and self-discovery. Brian: “It’s absolutely necessary to growth. Look at the European discovery of North America … people were dissatisfied with their homes, they had this yearning for something better. And if you’re already comfortable, you’re not gonna go for it. But if you’re oppressed, you’re gonna try for something bigger.”

“I find we’re too comfortable, with the government programs. And with them giving us these programs, we have the mentality that we’re damaged. We’re not successful, we’re victims. And that’s how people talk, if you read the letters to the editors. ‘Where are the jobs? Somebody come give us the jobs.’”

“But, there are some people coming back here from away and starting businesses. There’s this leatherworker, on Charlotte St, we met them, he and his wife came back from Alberta… I walked by his place one time and I see him out front smiling, shoveling his walk. And that says to me, you know, he’s proud of his business. Of what he’s created. He wants it to look good. He wants the other businesses around him to look good. He’s not just dreaming or scheming, and he’s got the backbone behind it. That makes me smile.”

We talk a bit about Facebook. I ask them how much they use it to build networks.

A commemorative landmark in Whitney Pier, celebrating the "Melting Pot" of Sydney.

Erin: “It’s interesting, I feel like, it reinforces links that I already knew were there. You meet someone somewhere and you add them to your Facebook and you find out through them that these other things are happening, based on what they’ve linked to and that sort of thing. So I feel it’s useful… in terms of the general awareness of what’s going on in the community. But I also read the paper and listen to the radio in the morning to find out what’s going on. And I certainly don’t think that Facebook IS the community. It’s helpful… for discussing things with people in, say, Baddeck, (laughs), but we [as a society] really are too dependent on it. And we really don’t get enough face-to-face interaction with people, anymore. We should be having more get-togethers, that’s what we should be focusing on, because that’s how we create community for REAL. The actual thing is created when we get together. The hopes and dreams of it may exist in the virtual world, but the actual thing is people, people eating together, working together, making music together, gardening together, whatever it is.”


I stayed – and taped! – over two hours worth of great, stimulating conversation, but unfortunately don’t have room for it all here. (Or the time to transcribe it!) After Miriel fell asleep it was time for me to head off. On the drive out of Whitney Pier I stopped and took a few pictures of the new multicultural statue of the flags, and thought about community, and place, and history.

Erin and Brian are both avid gardeners, and Erin has agreed to do some writing for this blog, sharing books that are available from the Cape Breton Regional Library on the subjects of gardening, community-building, and sustainability. I’m looking forward to seeing which books she picks!


And here is a video trailer for an upcoming movie about Whitney Pier, titled “Pier Dear”. Check it out for more information about the Melting Pot of Sydney.

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Frugal Friday

One of my grocery receipts with some spare change thrown on top, shot on Macro mode on my point and shoot camera. Ta da!

One of the things that comes up a lot when I’m talking to people about living in Cape Breton is money. And usually, the lack of it.

Life is expensive these days. A whole generation – people my age – live with their parents to save money. Most people who go out West do it to make more money than they’re able to make here. A lot of people who go, say that money is the only reason they’re there, that they would rather be here on the East Coast. The cost of housing, of food, of transportation, of education, has a very real impact on what we end up doing, on where we live, what we eat, how we get around, and whether or not we go to school. You could say that money rules our lives.

Kate Oland, librarian at the Baddeck Public Library, and a farmer, and a mother of three (so she knows a thing or two about trying to save money), came up with the idea of “Frugal Friday”- to have gatherings of like-minded people at the library on Fridays to share ideas to save money. (It wouldn’t have to be on Fridays, mind you – she is also open to Savers Saturdays, etc.) She floated the idea to her Facebook circles, got good feedback, and is in the process of developing some events at the library.

To support that, and to take back some of the power that money has over our lives, here on the Dream Big blog we’re starting Frugal Fridays, a weekly feature with a focus on the financial. Share your ideas for saving money or your thoughts on the subject by leaving a comment or sending Leah an email. Also, is there anyone out there interested in taking this column on as a regular contributor? I’ve got enough to write about as it is!! Email me if you’d like to write about money matters for Dream Big.

Let's share ways to save coin.

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On Building Fires

The axe is sunk nice and deep into the log. Just a few more hits against the floor and I'll have some kindling!

We’ve been housesitting for the past three weeks, in a home that uses wood heat. It also has baseboard electric heaters, but wood heat is so much nicer and cozier.

In the first week, I tried to light a fire a couple of times, building a pile of paper and kindling like I’ve seen other people do, but not long after lighting the match and having the newspaper catch fire, the paper was all burnt up and the kindling was only slightly singed. The stove was cold and dark, and seemed to taunt me. With Adam gone to work all day, I hated having to wait for him to get home to start a fire. “For god’s sake,” I thought, “I’ve lived in a home with a woodstove for my entire life. I’m successful in lots of other ways. Why can’t I do this?”

Once that fire gets going, I could sit and watch it for hours.

So Adam patiently showed me his technique. How he twists the newspaper up instead of just crumpling it, and that makes it burn longer. How he props kindling into a teepee shape over the pile of newspaper twists. How he “feeds” the fire with progressively bigger pieces of kindling until it gets big enough to support and burn a full-fledged log. And, I gave it a shot and it worked.

But the next day, when I was by myself again, a new problem showed up: splitting logs for kindling. I would swing the axe and it would hit the wood with a kind of “dink” noise and bounce off. “How is it,” I thought, “that Adam can do this and split the bloody log in nearly one go, and I’m just as physically strong as him in other ways, and yet in the battle of ‘me vs. log’, this log is winning?!?”

A good way to get a spark going. The ad on the newspaper in the background is for eggs. Get crackin!

It turns out the answer is anger. I forget why exactly I was pissed off. Maybe I was thinking about funding getting cut for essential social services, or I was thinking about the status of women worldwide (I’ve been planning an event for Women’s Day, so these issues are especially central in my mind). Maybe I was just irritated at someone who cut me off on the highway. Whatever my motivation, I swung that axe hard and gave it one healthy crack into the log. And the axe friggin stuck in there. Then I swung the axe and log together and hit the bottom of the log against the concrete floor, driving the axe in even further. A few more angry, solid thwacks and that log was in pieces.

I was breathing a little harder, and my hair had come out of its ponytail. I might have said something rude to the log. I felt exhilarated! I thought, I too can do this! I had long ago filed “Log Splitting” along with “Driving a Standard” under “Skills I Will Just Never Learn, I Guess”, felt ashamed of it, and left it at that. But this was a rush!

Selecting the right piece, it turns out, is kind of an art.

After I’d split enough kindling to build a fire, I tended to it and built it up. You can’t rush a fire, by putting too much wood on it too fast, but you can’t slack, either. You’ve got to feed it. When the flames are there, give it something else to burn, otherwise you end up with the smoky pile I had at the beginning. But if you practice, and you pay attention to what you’ve done wrong, you can get a really nice, warm, roaring fire going.

And as I sat by the fire, I thought about how building fires is most definitely an able metaphor for the work of building community – like the work of the Dream Big project, and the work of all of you who are making change happen in your communities, one event, one organization, one board meeting at a time.


Look for posts coming soon on frugality, an interview with a Whitney Pier couple, an interview with ACAP Cape Breton’s Education Manager and a visit I paid to La Quaintrelle, a North Sydney boutique run by twentysomething Megan Finney. And more!

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Dream Big’s own map!

Mathieu Noble, working with local company Integral Geomatics, created a map especially for use on this blog! (Full disclosure – Mathieu is my brother. But no, I didn’t have to arm-wrestle or noogie him to get him to do this.)

Mathieu studied at the Centre of Geographic Sciences, or COGS, part of the Nova Scotia Community College. He has also been drawing maps since he was a small child, which I can personally attest to.

Integral Geomatics is Emily MacDonald and Gary Pardy, two young people in Sydney who have started their own business. No doubt soon I’ll pester them to sit down with me for a chat, but for now they’re sponsoring this map and helping us out. Thanks guys!

The map can be found on every page in the toolbar across the top, under the link that says “Map”. Nice and easy!

And, perhaps in future we’ll see more of Mat’s work in geomatics, and also in photography and writing? He’s interested in being a collaborator.

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Moonlit mornings, and the project so far

The moon setting over the Bras d'Or lake, around 6 am, a few weeks ago.

I appreciate the sound of silence so much these days.

I take the dog for a walk and I’ll be marching along, my head full of thoughts that are busy and buzzing like bees. Maggie, the dog, will stop to do something important like pee on a Tim Hortons cup, and I’ll have to stop too. Then, if I’m lucky, my thoughts stop too, and I just listen to the quiet around me. To the silence. It feels so beautiful, full, and rich.

Of course, it’s not really “silence”, as there are sounds – the trees swaying in wind, or birds chirping, or the waves on the shore, but my ears appreciate nature’s quiet the way a tired body appreciates a comfortable, clean bed with a big fluffy duvet. It’s a place to rest.

With today’s technology – smart phones, television and the demanding Internet practically everywhere one goes – I find myself easily overwhelmed by noises, and by the “need” to be connected, current and in touch. I check my email often (how many times a day might be a bit embarrassing to admit) and feel that I “have” to be on top of every bit of news out there, or on top of all my tasks and projects. I feel anxious if there are unanswered emails in my inbox. My boyfriend is great for me in this regard because he takes a no-nonsense approach: “Leah, step away from the computer. Do me a favor and go put your stretchy pants on, and get yourself a glass of wine. Come sit with me in the living room. Relax.”

Maggie looks off into the trees and I'm enchanted by an apple tree in winter.

So what does all of this have to do with the Dream Big project? Well, everything. For one thing, the project sprang from my creative mind and it’s my creative energy that keeps it going. And I want to keep it going, for a long time, so I don’t want to burn out on it. And, I’m loving it so far – loving doing the interviews, loving having the conversations in person, loving monitoring the conversations on the Facebook group. Loving driving the Cape Breton roads, and exploring ideas that spiral from other ideas, and thinking about just what awesome things myself and others could do with this “little idea that could”.

But this creative work IS work. If you want an article that you’re proud of, you’ve got to put the time in to crafting it. And I’m an impatient person, at heart. I want something finished, and I want it finished NOW! Combine that with our instant-update culture that I’m pretty addicted to and immersed in, i.e. Facebook and its brethren, and I get anxious thinking that if I don’t have a blog post every day, I’ll lose people’s interest.

The cracks in the road look like purposeful artwork when outlined with salt.

Here’s where Cape Breton herself comes into the picture. (And yes, for now anyway, I’m referring to the island as “she”.) It’s her dirt roads I walk along when I’m feeling stressed. It’s the weather here that I walk in, get wet in, feel the sun on my skin in. It’s her old homesteads grown over in spruce and apple trees that I investigate with my eyes and my dog, trying to imagine what it was like to live there fifty, a hundred years ago. It’s her crows and seagulls and chickadees that I admire as they flit and fly through the air. It’s all these elements of Cape Breton and much more that take me out of myself, my own little brain, and bring me calm, a sense of peace.


Something else I’ve been thinking about on the subject of “calming myself down” – is time. Basically, with the Dream Big project – and in my life in general – I want to help cause social change here, and help people connect with each other, to bring positive changes to Cape Breton. To make our lives feel more abundant, and come up with solutions to the reasons why we struggle to make ends meet, and end up leaving.

But, again I get easily overwhelmed and I tend to feel that each day that passes means we’re losing more people, more infrastructure, more possibilities. So I panic, thinking “If only I stayed up til midnight writing and then got up early and went and did interviews! Then I’d have a post every day! Then I could make a difference!”

Studying history is what helps in this case. Reading about the history of the island and seeing that people have been coming and going from Cape Breton for a long time already – hundreds and hundreds of years – is what allows me to calm down, and helps me to see myself, my peers, and this moment in time as just that – a moment in time. Part of a much bigger process. (I’m working on some pieces and thoughts about local history, because I think where we’ve come from is just as important as where we’re going. You need to know one to know the other, or something like that.)


So – the project, so far. I’ve done four interviews. Two have been turned into articles and you’ve read them on here. The other two are in the works. (It takes about three hours of writing to produce a story from a 1-hour interview, plus the revisions and consulting with the interviewees to make sure they’re happy with how they’re being represented.)

There are other interviews on my schedule for the next several weeks. And, I’m talking with a couple of different people about being correspondents or contributors. (And, I can always use more – so if you like to write, or take photos, or both, and if you’re interested in being part of the project, please read this and contact me and we can chat.)

My reference library - a cardboard box of books I cart around with me.

At its heart, this project is about voices, about each of us having our own strong, unique and important voice, and using our voices to share our stories. It’s about collecting the current voices of Cape Breton, similar to how Ron Caplan did in the 1970’s and 80’s with Cape Breton’s Magazine, in order to connect this disparate generation with each other, with this place, with a sense of community that will support us in the years to come. So, please do get in touch. Share your story.

And, I’m so glad all of you are with me. I’m so glad my little idea has touched a nerve in people, and that you all leave comments and encourage me. I’m excited to see where this takes us!

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