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Coady Institute students to study Pictou County’s assets

Janice Fraser believes that a different perspective can be a positive way to gain new insight.

It’s part of the reason she’s excited she’ll have the opportunity to welcome people from various parts of the world to Pictou County on June 1.

The visit is part of a course Fraser and other community leaders from Canada and about 10 other countries from around the world are taking this spring at St. Francis Xavier’s Coady Institute called Asset-based and Citizen-led Development.

During their field study visit the participants will have a chance to learn about Pictou County and give their perspective on its strength and assets.

The asset-based approach is unique in that often when it comes to development people look at what’s wrong and try to fix it, says Gord Cunningham, assistant director of the Coady International Institute. Asset-based is different because it focuses on what’s already strong and finds ways to build on those strengths. The other aspect the course focuses on is endeavors that are community-led rather than waiting on government or corporations to create positive change.

Fraser is a founding member of Pictou County 2020, which she created along with other women in response to the Ivany Report. The group has already examined what it believes are Pictou County’s strengths but she said it will be interesting to see how others view it.

“I’m really excited about the training,” Fraser said. “I’ve done community development my entire career and really believe in this strength- and asset-based approach.”

Without a doubt she believes Pictou County’s greatest potential rests with its residents.

Already there has been local interest in the visit with support coming from the Town of New Glasgow’s community development committee. Fraser said they hope to have other municipalities participate as well.

In the past, the Coady Institute has held engagement sessions in places closer to home, but Cunningham is thankful for Fraser’s help in bringing it to Pictou County.

“I see this as a great opportunity,” he said.

The event is being held at Summer Street Industries June 1 between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. and during that time the students of the course hope to talk with people from Pictou County and learn what the community collectively sees as the main assets and strengths.

Some aspects they’ll consider is an inventory of the skills and talents of the people here, a diagram illustrating the many and diverse voluntary associations, a map of the community’s main physical assets and natural resources and an illustration of the money coming into and out of our community.

Residents interested in taking part can come for the full two hours or drop by for as long as they’re able to.

Cunningham hopes participants in the course will leave with some insight themselves.

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