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Wayside’s Official Launch

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Learning community launches for Atlantic Canada changemakers

The following press release was sent out on Monday, January 25.

#Education #SocialInnovation #SystemsChange #AtlanticCanada

(K’jipuktuk) The longtime dream of a prominent community member who passed away in 2019 has come to fruition: Atlantic Canada has a new way for social innovators to connect and learn. Wayside Learning Community (waysideinitiative.ca) launches formally on February 1, 2021. 

The site is now run as a project of Inspiring Communities, a not-for-profit organization that works in the field of systems change in Atlantic Canada. 

“Inspiring Communities was honoured to take on this work,” notes the organization’s acting Executive Director Cari Patterson. “We provide social change initiatives with a nest for experimentation, develop leadership in the field, and cultivate a culture of learning and evaluation. Bringing Wayside into our fold offers us so many opportunities to expand and amplify, not just the work of our own initiatives, but the work of changemakers across the region.”

She adds, “Wayside was always designed to offer both real-time and recorded courses online, but COVID has made it a particularly timely launch.” 

Wayside offers education designed to serve the Atlantic Canada community of changemakers, those working to innovate and create a better society. Courses offered include the Art of Collaboration, Systems Thinking and A Foundation Course in Mindfulness. 

In addition to these original courses, Wayside works with partners to host other education and community development offerings. These have included the Hosts’ Table, a partnership with United Church leaders and Life.School.House; a public speaking course for young African Nova Scotians offered in collaboration with the East Preston Empowerment Academy; and The Meet-Up, a collaboration with Engage Nova Scotia.

“Our dream is to support all Atlantic Canadians working to improve their communities with really tailored offerings,” said Inspiring Communities’ Community Director Tyler Colbourne. “In particular, we hope to reach underserved communities: Black Atlantic Canadians, Indigenous people, those from all parts of the gender spectrum, people in rural communities, and those for whom cost can be a barrier.”

Wayside was originally conceived and founded by Michael Chender, a well-known and successful social entrepreneur who died in 2019. In 2020, Inspiring Communities, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to collective impact, took over the initiative. A soft launch in the fall saw about 20 registrants take part in Sera Thompson’s The Art of Collaboration, a course that teaches people how to effectively work with diverse groups to achieve a common goal. 

Who was Michael Chender? 

Photo: Deep Democracy Read their 2015 Interview with Michael Chender.

Michael’s obituary outlines his history: “Born in Paris after the war to Jules Chender and Selda (Röhr) Chender, Jewish immigrants, Michael grew up in New York City. He moved to Colorado in the 1970s where he met and married his wife Julie and began what would be a lifelong study and practice of Buddhism. When his father passed away suddenly in 1973 Michael took over his international metals consultancy at the age of 25. When everyone around him was wearing caftans and dropping out, Michael put on a suit and built a company and relationships that would span the world, all the while building a practice of meditation and service that would last his lifetime. In 1988 he moved his family and his business to Nova Scotia where both flourished. In addition to his company, Michael was involved in countless projects and Boards throughout the years, including the founding of the ALiA institute, Engage Nova Scotia, Envision Halifax, the Wayside Initiative, and many others.” Michael’s daughter Isabel was involved in the establishing of Wayside, and served on the board. Wayside hopes to honour the legacy of its founder. The founding impulse of Wayside was to create a platform for those working for the greater good in Atlantic  to pause, reflect, learn and take action collectively and individually.

What partners are we working with? 

East Preston Empowerment Academy was started at the East Preston Baptist Church when Pastor LeQuita Porter was leading it. The EPEA is offering a 6-week confidence-building public speaking course for African Nova Scotian individuals.

Engage Nova Scotia aspires to collaboratively, as Nova Scotians, better understand the opportunities, advantages and the hurdles facing the province. The group is collaborative, inclusive and adaptive to change, aiming to see more Nova Scotians stepping up to improve their quality of life and economic conditions. The Meet-Up is a series of weekly events that will dig deeply into quality of life and wellbeing. 

What is Inspiring Communities? 

Inspiring Communities is a not-for-profit organization based in Nova Scotia working to build collaborative relationships for social change. The organization works in three areas: 

  • nesting social change initiatives that include peer connections, access to learning opportunities, and back-end administrative support; 
  • evaluation support to initiatives in our nest, through Developmental Evaluation frameworks, designing theories of change, data collection and analysis; and 
  • generating learning opportunities to help cultivate the skills and knowledge needed for systems change leaders.