“One of the things I’ve learned is that it’s better to start with a strong start,” Braun said. “We’re now in two other parts of Nova Scotia, Sackville and Needham, North End Halifax. On October 19th we’re launching in Windsor.”
Braun said he got the idea for the Happy Community Project when he was wondering what his grandkid’s world would be like 20 years from now, and he decided to do as much as he could to make a happier world.
“I did a year and half worth of research, talking to PhDs and reading all kinds of articles by people who are trying to build communities,” he said. “And out of all of that, what I found is that if we can remember how to create happy communities, communities of well-being and resiliency, then maybe 20 years down the road, my grandkids might have a chance to roll with punches and come up smiling.”
But what is the Happy Community Project exactly?
Braun describes it as a process in which people come together, do things together, and through that build a stronger social fabric.
In Sackville they have a plant-exchange, where people trade plants once a month and get to know each other a bit better.
In Needham, there’s a community dinner once a month at a local restaurant and new residents are invited to get to know their neighbours.
“It all boils down to well-being,” Braun said. “People’s sense of belonging and social connectedness across the diversity of the community and that’s what we’re focusing on.”
He said he’s not just doing this as a feel-good hobby, he’s partnering with St. Mary’s University to help launch it and make it stronger, by implanting a system that will measure the Happy Community Project’s goals.
“We’re in the process of developing that now, so we’ll know that these results are real and not just a whole bunch of stories,” he said.
Braun said he wants this idea to be scalable, and to spread to more communities as it grows.
He said eight communities have already reached out to bring the project there including: Truro, Stewiacke, Tatamagouche, Dartmouth and more.
Windsor launch scheduled
Braun is hoping to kick off the Windsor branch of the Happy Community Project with a bang on Oct. 19, 2017 at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre at 7 p.m.
Attendees will be split into working groups, and each group will come up with ideas to increase the happiness of Windsor-West Hants. Those ideas will start to be rolled out in the following weeks.
“There’s been a very strong, positive reaction to it so far,” he said. “We’re already gaining strength and I’m optimistic we’ll have 200-plus people at the event at the community centre.”
He said that although the event is non-political, he’s happy that both Windsor Mayor Anna Allen and West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian are on board with the idea.
Braun emphasizes that the event is fully open to everyone; it’s not rooted in any partisan political group, religion, or cultural identity.
“That’s what’s going to make it work, it’s not about a single agenda, it’s about the community coming together and finding things that they can do together,” he said.