Our Strategic Foundation
Flourish is committed to a vision of flourishing communities across Nova Scotia that are vibrant, interdependent, inclusive, resilient, sustainable and collaborative.
What is a Flourishing Community?
Flourishing communities are those that are vibrant with life and are ordered to support continuing opportunities for people’s growth and development. Flourishing communities recognize that the growth and development of each person is interdependent with others in their communities. A flourishing community has the capacity to secure and deliver the common goods required for this growth and development. While flourishing communities will be diverse in physical look, geography, and cultures, they will all require some shared elements expressed in their own diverse ways.
Characteristics of a Flourishing Community:
Recognizes and respects the inherent dignity of all persons and supports and grows the network of personal relationships that embodies this reality.
2. Has a vibrant cultural myth/narrative/vision which articulates the community’s common goals and transmits and celebrates them.
3. Is in a right relationship with the natural environment which sustains the network of life that supports the community.
4. Is integrated into a broader network of flourishing communities to which it contributes and from which it receives sustainable sources of energy and food security.
5. Has a multitude of options for personal residences, single homes, co-operative housing, apartments, seniors residences etc. accessible to all members of the community
6. Have beautiful and accessible common spaces – public squares, parks, recreation facilities where people feel safe and free to pursue their interests individually or with others.
7. Has an effective education system which transmits the foundational cultural concepts which support the community and the practical skills and wisdom required for meeting the requirements for the community’s continuance.
8. Has open and transparent governance guided by an ethic of service which supports collaborative democratic decision making processes.
9. Encourages and facilitates interpersonal, intergenerational, and collective dialogues to develop a shared understanding of the circumstances, constraints, interdependencies and opportunities which need to be considered in creating the common goods required for the community’s flourishing.
10. Has a plural economy accessible to all that provides diverse work opportunities that are personally meaningful and enable one to secure the necessary resources for one’s growth and development while serving the needs of others (may be indirect) within the community or the network of communities to which it relates.
To: Support, encourage and enable the success of resilient communities throughout Nova Scotia.
By: Facilitating and implementing processes and initiatives that enable communities to maximize their strengths, and overcome their weaknesses. We do this through:
Strategic and operational planning;
Research and evaluation;
Business, co-operative and organizational development;
Social enterprise support; and
For: All Nova Scotia communities (be they regionally based communities or communities of interest).
Example: We support, encourage and enable the success of resilient communities throughout Nova Scotia by facilitating and implementing processes and initiatives that enable communities to maximize their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.
Our Values, Beliefs, & Principles
What We Value in Our Work
We deeply respect and care for the people we serve.
Aligning actions with words
Solidarity, mutual aid, and collective action
Fun and creativity
Being authentic, open, and honest
Supporting social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion
Supporting economic democracy and transparent governance
What We Believe to Be True
1. The Climate Crisis is Real - The climate crisis is having and will continue to have huge social, economic, and ecological impacts on rural communities.
2. The Current Economic System Must Change - We need an economic system that isn’t predicated on unlimited economic growth, one that focuses on equitably meeting real needs instead of unlimited wants, and that recognizes the special contribution that can be made by collective forms of enterprise.
3. Social Justice and Inclusion is Core to Our Work - We need to engage everyone in the communities we serve, especially those impacted by racism and discrimination, and support the fair distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within society.
4. Everyone Has Value - Every person has unique gifts they can develop and contribute to their community. This diversity strengthens our community.
5. We’re Better Together - We must find a way to overcome division and polarisation, to learn from and work with each other. This positive interdependence strengthens us as a community, and allows us to be and do more than we could ever be or do independently.
6. It’s Important to Dream - All people and communities have the right to dream and be inspired by a vision for a better future.
7. We’re All Learning - Even though our members possess extensive expertise and experience, we fully recognise that there is so much more to know and that we and our clients are all on a continuous learning journey.
The Principles that Guide Us in Our Work
1. We will be guided by the vision and priorities of the communities we serve.
2. We will start by seeking to understand our clients’ hopes, values, and capacities.
3. We will strive for a positive balance between dependence, independence, and interdependence.
4. We will consider every decision, action, and project through a climate lens.
5. All living things and natural systems must be treasured in everything that we do.
6. We will seek opportunities for intergenerational exchange and collaboration wherever possible.
7. We will prioritise and promote economic equity and democracy.
8. We will be guided by the principle of subsidiarity - that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate level that is consistent with their resolution.
9. We will prioritise the needs and priorities of the most vulnerable and marginalised.
The Cooperative Values and Principles
As a cooperative, Flourish embraces Cooperative Values and Principles.
Flourish Growth & Evolution
Social purpose organizations can easily experience scope-creep given the wide array of important and worthy topics and areas of work that all need focus and support. However, organizations who focus their efforts in specific areas of expertise are more likely to truly move those causes ahead. This strategic priority calls on the co-op members to ensure that the work being done by the organization stays true to the mission and values.
Our Strategic Priorities
Our Commitment & Intention
Flourish is committed to supporting independent business owners to transition the ownership of their businesses to collective (co-operative, nonprofit, municipal, or band council) ownership. We have a particular interest in supporting “keystone businesses” – i.e. the sole providers of essential goods, services, and large-scale employment – in rural and remote communities. It is our intention to support the transitioning of up to 10 such businesses in the next three to five years.
Flourish has already been actively doing research on the issue with support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and has worked with CCEDNet to submit a proposal to ACOA to address the issue using Social Succession. To learn more, click here.
Why & Why Now?
We are in the midst of an unprecedented ownership transition of small businesses, due primarily to demographic trends (a majority of business owners are approaching or at retirement age) and ongoing pressures from the COVID pandemic, inflation, supply chain disruptions, labour shortages, and a looming recession.
While over 50% of business owners are looking to transition away from their businesses, fewer than 10% of them have a plan to do so. This makes these owners vulnerable, for lack of a buyer, to closing their doors and liquidating their business assets when the time comes to move on. Businesses located in rural communities that are outside the orbit of major urban centres may be at special risk, due to the limited number of available buyers. This in turn represents a serious risk for the communities that rely on these businesses as part of their critical infrastructure. When the next major employer (grocery store, medical clinic, childcare centre) is two or more hours away, losing the one you have can be an existential threat.
But we choose to see this situation as a historic opportunity to enhance the democracy and resilience of rural economies and communities, where community stakeholders can come together to preserve and grow the businesses on which they rely. These businesses’ employees and customers, as well as local municipalities, nonprofits, or band councils have a special interest in seeing these businesses remain and thrive. Research has shown that businesses that transition to collective ownership generally perform better than when independently owned. Importantly, by broadening the ownership base of these businesses, the local economies become more inclusive, democratic, and resilient.
Flourish also sees this as a tremendous opportunity to increase inclusion and representation of various marginalized and racialized groups in Atlantic Canada's economy including people of African and Indigenous descent, people who have been incarcerated, people with disabilities and newcomers.
Social succession – transitioning independently owned businesses to collective ownership – really can be a best case scenario for all involved!
Flourishing communities are made from within and sustained when citizens come together and work toward a common goal. “Community Hubs” can play a pivotal role. Hubs function as an interactive forum for cooperation, coordination, and collaboration. Hubs provide a synergistic environment for the instigation, development, and implementation of ideas and action. Flourish has identified the development of community hubs as a strategic priority. The Flourish team has direct experience in the imagining, creation, and management of hubs whether it be a new life to an endangered community building or functional alignment of community resources. Communities wishing to investigate the potential of a community hub will be guided through a ideation process specific to and respectful of the wishes and resources of each community.
The team at Flourish offers services related to making changes in the food system in Nova Scotia. There is significant evidence that the dominant food system does not meet the needs of many Nova Scotians. Our recent involvement in projects addressing food accessibility and security of supply has made it clear that there is an appetite for making changes that Flourish can help achieve. In particular, supporting the development and sustainability of food hubs has emerged as an area of both need and opportunity for Nova Scotians. Offering a range of approaches to effecting change from providing specific services desired by producers and consumers, to strengthening food supply chains, food hubs address some of the negative outcomes of the dominant food system. Undergirded by values such as food security, justice, inclusion, equity, and resilience they address inequities perpetuated by dominant systems of production, aggregation, distribution, accessibility, and waste within our food system. Flourish Community Development Co-operative is committed to working with clients on this important work, offering a broad range of skills and an extensive experience with various types of values-based organizations. Specifically in relation to Food Hubs, a core objective of this strategic priority is to strengthen a locally sourced and equitable food system in Nova Scotia.