Community Herald: From global to local

Rebecca Perrott, owner of Merciful, a locally run jewelry business, wears earrings handwoven with papyrus, a local grass from Rwanda and displays her current collection for sale.
Rebecca Perrott, owner of Merciful, a locally run jewelry business, wears earrings hand-woven with papyrus, a local grass from Rwanda and displays her current collection for sale.

A small business is weaving it’s way into the Bedford community. When Rebecca Perrott travelled to Kigali, Rwanda to conduct research for her masters degree in International Development Studies, she hadn’t realized a culture of hopeful, creative and inspiring people would lead her to launch Merciful, a locally run jewelry business.

“Merciful means to love mercy. It’s a scripture verse,” says the graduate of Dalhousie University who moved to Nova Scotia from Rothesay, NB.

Along with her husband, Kyle Perrott from Lower Sackville, the couple spent three months in 2011 researching and becoming familiar with Aids Prevention Care and Outreach Ministries (APRECOM), an association supporting families impacted by AIDS, many of them widows.

For the complete story, click here.

Community Herald: How does your community garden grow? The ABCs and 123s of school gardening

Halifax West Learning Centre teacher Jenn Bennett with  EPA Glendalee Clattenburg and students Fallon Osmond, Andrew Conners and Umar Ali (L-R).
Halifax West learning centre teacher Jenn Bennett with EPA Glendalee Clattenburg and students Fallon Osmond, Andrew Conners and Umar Ali (L-R).

Students love anything dirty, messy and outdoors, according to Jenn Bennett. “So what more can you ask for then a school garden project,” exclaims the learning centre teacher from Halifax West High School.

But there’s plenty more than seeds rooting beneath the soil of the students’ raised-bed, low maintenance gardens.

“A lot of students these days don’t know where their food comes from besides what they see in the grocery store … so it’s really great to know that they can be in charge and take ownership of the process involved in making some of the food they consume,” says Bennett. She says there’s also a lot of learning to be thrown in. “As far as measurements and weather systems, food, nutrition and even art … oodles and oodles of stuff you can hide in there!”

Over at CP Allen High School, students are preparing a garden of their own. “Right now they’re measuring and doing some science. They’re measuring every 12 inches and plotting out squares for each vegetable,” says Jill White, the HRSB school nutritionist, as she watches the learning centre students digging and planting amid an early June mist.

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“The garden gives a great opportunity for teaching that food comes from the ground, not a package. But it also builds independence and self-confidence,” says White.

These two high schools are among 32 schools awarded grants for gardening this year. “We supported schools with close to $20,000 in garden grants through the Department of Health and Wellness,” says White.

Emanuel has created a Google Calendar for anyone interested in volunteering. For more info or to volunteer email:

Full story here.

Community Herald: Hammonds Plains Farmers’ Market moves to barrier-free location

The Hammonds Plains market is on the move. Pop-up farmers’ markets appearing around HRM highlight a market’s ability to be portable, flexible and most importantly, accessible to the needs of their local supporters.

For the weekly Hammonds Plains Farmer’s Market, it was about the need for greater accessibility. Their timely announcement to move to a barrier-free location on Kearney Lake Road was made during Access Awareness Week, which ran June 1st to June 7th.

“We’re celebrating this week with a wonderful partnership at a barrier-free location and we’re so grateful to be able to expand the market and welcome our seniors, who had difficulty walking up those stairs,” said Pamela Lovelace, founder of the Hammonds Plains market.

It wasn’t only seniors who saw a need for the market to be more accessible. Vendors hauling produce, mom’s with double strollers and locals collecting their weekly Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) boxes found the ramp and stairs at the Hammonds Plains Community Centre steep and often treacherous.

Full story here.

Community Herald: Service learning: A hands-on game changer

“You get to help other people and build skills … it’s school but it’s not like school, it’s really fun,” says Colleyne McDonald (R) with fellow Halifax West O2 student Sara Macdonald (L) showcasing dollhouses to be donated to IWK Children’s Hospital.

Students are getting their hands dirty, constructing confidence and community links through service learning and real life opportunities.

Service Learning Week began June 2, when students across Nova Scotia showcased projects focused around community engagement and tangible outcomes.

Grade 10 students at Halifax West High School built 10 ornately detailed dollhouses to donate to IWK children’s hospital as part of their project.

“There were some ups and downs and some parts were frustrating,” said Sara Macdonald. “The shingles were a struggle.”

… But one of the key ‘game changers’ is getting the message to parents about what the program is about says Shane Shaw, O2 coordinator at Millwood High School in Sackville. “It’s not only about trades.”

For the complete story see Community Herald.

Dakai Maritimes: Summer 2014

Stella Tziolas, Entrepreneurs’ Forum, speaker Akram Al-otumi, Jennifer Liu of Fusion Halifax, speaker Franziska Broell and Shelley Hessian, Innovacorp. (L-R)
Stella Tziolas, Entrepreneurs’ Forum, speaker Akram Al-otumi, Jennifer Liu of Fusion Halifax, speaker Franziska Broell and Shelley Hessian, Innovacorp. (L-R)

The Summer 2014 issue of Dakai Maritimes is online and around town.

Learn how one international SMU graduate is changing the rules of business in Halifax and finding there’s more to mattress money than pocket change. But despite his business earning $250,000, the government has told Chen Qing to stay in Canada, he’s got to find another job.

And the resilience of many local entrepreneurs attending Fusion Halifax Immigrant Entrepreneur Showcase are making Halifax a better place to live, work and play.


For the full issue of Dakai Maritimes click here.



Community Herald: Shifting into gear: tips for cycling to work

Emily MacDonald is part of Halifax Cycling Coalition and committed to improving conditions for cyclists in Halifax.

HRM Bike Week is here and a coalition of avid cyclists are breaking down the barriers of cycling-the-city and shifting Haligonians’ non-recreational biking habits into gear.

Find the Community Herald story here.

Emily Macdonald hopes to encourage as many commuters as possible to park their cars and cycle, whether it’s getting to the office or simply travelling for a loaf of bread. She’s part of Halifax Cycling Coalition, committed to improving conditions for cyclists in Halifax.

Kitted out with cycling travel, safety and comfort gear, Macdonald spoke at a recent Friday lunch and learn session at Seaport Farmer’s Market.

Lane Farguson attended the lunch and learn, looking for information on how to get biking to work from Tantallon. “If I were to put it on my car and then leave my car on St. Margarets Bay road, there’s a parking lot there.” Farguson (39) says he could then continue cycling to his work at the Port Authority.

Lane says his employer encourages employees to cycle and provides onsite showers and lockers.  “That’s not the issue, it’s just getting from Tantallon to here,” says Farguson.

Barriers to biking

Macdonald offers options and solutions for individuals, employers and the city, to help overcome many common barriers of biking to work:

Don’t sweat it: Macdonald says don’t let helmet head deter that ‘clear-your-mind’ ride to the office. She encourages employers to foster healthy and energized employees by offering bike racks and providing a ‘clean-up station’ for employees.

      • Employers, she says, could spoil employees with showers and lockers to store extra clothes and ‘clean-up’ gear.  She says the 6,000 employees working in Scotia Square can access lockers and showers.
      • Macdonald says some local employers keep a bike pump at work in case of a flat and taxi vouchers for emergencies.  HRM’s Smart Trip program helps encourage employers to support employees in finding eco-wise ways to commute to work.

Commute too long:  Macdonald suggests taking the commute one step at a time.

        • Drive part way and when traffic gets congested, park the car and cycle.
        • Metro buses have bike racks for cyclists.
        • Find a route that best suits individual commuter times and travel conditions. She says cycling is a great way to multi-task a work-out into travel time, maximizing efficiency.

Scary route:  Fast cars, narrow roads and too much traffic can all act as barriers.  “A lot of time it’s a perceived fear that prevents people from biking.  It’s about building up confidence and teaching safe ways to commute,” says Macdonald.

Social Media: Macdonald suggests posting on FaceBook’s Halifax Cycle Chat forum. “Just say, I need a way to get from here-to-here and I’m comfortable on these types of roads.”  She says there are hundreds of cyclists on the forum to help get people biking.

Safety tips for cycling in traffic:

    • Ride predictably: “If you ride in a predictable way, cars will know where you’re going, if they try to pass you.”
    • Be visible!  “This means wearing lights and reflectors at night, especially in the rain … lights are required by law for night riding.”  Macdonald says the best measure a cyclist can take is to be seen and have good communication with drivers.  “Make eye-contact and do frequent shoulder checks even when not changing lanes.”
    • “Cars are legally required to give a metre of space in order to pass a cyclist, which includes crossing the yellow line,” says Macdonald. She says sometimes, in areas with potholes, it’s safer to pick a lane to avoid swerving.
    • Ride at least one metre from the curb or parked cars.  “This will allow you to anticipate and react to obstructions without swerving into traffic.”
    • Consider pedestrians’ safety and comfort:
    • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. “Remember, not all pedestrians know how agile you are on your bike.  Even if you know you won’t crash into them, respect their space.”
    • Use a bell when passing pedestrians on trails.

Build up slowly:

    • Newbie cyclists can be too hard on themselves, trying to cycle everyday. Build up slowly starting with once or twice a week.
    • “Try a cheap bike at first or borrow … and ride it for a while before investing.”
    • Macdonald says biking with a friend is easier than going solo.

Bad weather: “It doesn’t matter what time of year you bike, it’s just the way you dress.  I bike all year … it was no problem really,” said Tim Bell.  Bell lives on Bayers Road and bikes to work on Chain Lake Dr.  While bad weather doesn’t discourage Bell, construction along Chain Lake Trail will prevent him from cycling to work this summer.

Too much to carry:  “Drive into work one day and bring in two days of clothes. Then cycle the next two days.”

    • Panniers are great to transport a change of clothes, toiletries and other essentials, says Macdonald.

For the complete story click here.

It pays to cycle:

From shopping, services and dining, during HRM Bike Week, June 6th to June 15th, cyclists get discounts. See for details.

Check for city bike routes, recreational cycling maps and connect with cycle-happy folks.

Community Herald: Seeking the ‘extraordinary’ within a name

MSMS students placing themselves inside their rendition of Alex Colville's painting 'To Prince Edward Island'
MSMS students placing themselves inside their rendition of Alex Colville’s painting ‘To Prince Edward Island’

Nova Scotia Primary to Grade 12 students have found it’s not so much a name that’s important, but what lies within a name. They have submitted more than 75 ideas for naming the upcoming February holiday, including suggestions for the next 12 Nova Scotian cultural or historical contributors to be recognized annually.

“The interest lies in the dialogue about all the potential of so many people” says Mary Beth Osburn, visual arts teacher at Madeline Symonds Middle School in Hammonds Plains. She opened the dialogue, one lunch hour, with a few of her students.

“Some of the most amazing things happen at the least anticipated moments …” says Osburn, “… and the kids don’t even realize they’re apart of something so much bigger.”

“I challenge you to get your own day … and then send me a coffee, because I told you, you could have it!” she laughs with her students. “From small places, come mighty things.” Mary Beth Osburn, MSMS Art Teacher

Click here for complete story.