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What do you need?

If you think about it, most of our society relies on all of us to fulfill each other's needs.  When needs for goods, services, companionship, education, health care, etc. are unmet, our society begins to break down - sometimes in dangerous ways.  Unfortunately, the covid19 pandemic is unraveling our very systems that are set in place to help people fulfill their needs.

Though we've seen great progress here on Vancouver Island in reducing the progression of this virus, it's not over by a long shot.  It's going to be a while before businesses fully reopen.  Many jobs have been lost.  And we have to learn new ways of doing things in order to keep everyone safe.

Our various levels of government can only take us so far.  The rest is up to us.  We need to step up and help each other through this.  But first we need to know:  who needs what?

This is where Nanaimo Connect comes in.  We've created groups on Facebook and LinkedIn where you can start conversations with each other.  Tell us all what you need.  Tell us all what you have to offer.  Do you need someone to connect you with goods, services, employment, etc.?  Do you have a business that's open that needs to communicate with customers about new hours and policies?  The more we talk to each other, the more we can help each other out.

Let's do this!  It's going to be a long journey to find our new normal.  So let's take this first step together, and have those conversations about what we need, and what we can do as a community to make sure none of us are left behind.

A new beginning. Where do we go from here?

It's no secret that in recent years Nanaimo has been suffering from benign neglect when it comes to our economy. Nobody intended city residents to suffer from job and wage stagnation, Nobody intended for the percentage of homeless people to increase as the prices for local housing shot up through the stratosphere.  But nobody really tried to steer Nanaimo onto a different economic course, either.

Newcomers to this area often comment about the tremendous potential that the city and surrounding areas have to offer.  And yet we have many talented people whose skills are under utilized - our young people, fresh out of university with big hopes and dreams, plus our newcomers who hope to contribute to Nanaimo and area's growth with the skills and abilities they bring with them.

And yet that potential, to date, has remained unfulfilled.  Desperate to keep afloat, residents have settled for jobs stocking shelves and running a cash register "until better things come along." Years later, they're still doing the same, only now working 2 or 3 jobs because wages haven't kept up with the skyrocketing cost of living.

Then, this year, all that came crashing to a halt.

We've had weeks now, with our lives on pause, hunkered down, waiting for the crisis to pass.  And even though our bodies, our city and much of our economy have been idle, our minds haven't been.

We've been thinking, dreaming, imagining the way things could be better.  While some look at the pandemic and despair (rightly so) over lost lives, lost livelihoods, and lost lifestyles, others look at this crisis and see opportunity.  They envision the chance to rebuild our communities - not to make them the same as before, but to make them better - healthier, greener, and more inclusive than they've ever been.

Humanity's greatest strength is that we co-operate better than any other species on this planet.  We all prosper when we put our ideas together, when we build together, when we share our strengths.  We can create great things as a community and this allows everybody to benefit.

Instead of waiting for things to happen - waiting for someone else to take the lead - let's work together.  This is why Nanaimo Connect was created: to bring together the thinkers and builders, the dreamers and doers, the visionaries and the creators. Let them share their ideas, resources, dreams and efforts to help our community through these hard times, not just to the way it was, but to the way it could be.  Let us all live up to our true potential by working together towards a strong, resilient future.

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