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January Roundtable Notes

The roundtable is actually a large square in the Veith House board room  and next month it will become a rectangle – because we need to fit in more chairs.  There were 26 people around the table on January 6 representing many different organizations – including established non-profits like Phoenix Youth and the Community Justice Society and municipal and provincial programs like Halifax Recreation, the Halifax Public Library and the new Halifax Peninsula Community Health Team.   What we all have in common: a desire to come together to make positive change in North End Halifax.

Please see and share the notes – North End Roundtable January 6, 2015.  The  next roundtable will be Feb. 3 10 at 9 a.m.

And if you want to receive future notes via email – plus be advised about NECC events – let us know.

Gratitude for 2014

2014 saw much activity and many changes for the North End Community Circle.  We convened the first-ever North End roundtable to increase communication amongst organizations and agencies.  Each month there are new and familiar faces and stories of collaboration. Here are the most recent notes: North End Roundtable December 2, 2014  Get on the email list if you want the notes within a week and please join us on Jan. 6, 2015, 9 a.m. at Veith House for the next one.

Also early in 2014, we hosted a workshop and a potluck in a new-to-us community space, Shambhala School. Then we started looking ahead to the third annual Community BBQ  in June at Isleville Park, which thanks to collaboration from Mulgrave Park United Baptist, was the largest ever.


We also built a community garden on the slope of Needham Hill, with collaboration from the Ecology Action Centre‘s food project and District 8 councillor Jennifer Watts.  Special thanks to community volunteer Stan Levy (on the right in the photo) who contributed his truck, his skills, his tools and his good heart to the project and to David Hastey (not pictured), who filled water barrels weekly through the summer for the gardeners. In the fall, we added an additional six beds so that 14 families will be able to garden this spring.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 11.40.50 AM

In early summer, we collaborated with the Africville Museum to cohost a walk to Africville from the end of Novalea.  The goals were to learn more about North End history, to highlight the continued challenges of accessibility faced by the Africville Heritage Trust as it seeks to promote the museum, and to utilize underdeveloped public land in the far North End. AfricvilleWalkposter2

Another big change came in the fall of 2014, when the NECC got an actual office and community facilitator Lisa Roberts got face-to-face colleagues. With full support from the Community Justice Society, which founded the NECC and secured our funding from United Way Halifax, the NECC is transitioning to become a community development program of Veith House.

Veith House has hosted the ever-growing North End roundtable since its inception. It is in the North End, is a community asset, and has lots of potential to develop – in particular this old kitchen that we aim to make serviceable again as a community kitchen.  The Halifax Community Health Board is supporting the NECC to provide food whenever we host a community gathering.

IMG-20141209-00167Renovating – and possibly rewiring – that kitchen is one goal for 2015. Another: to engage deeply with a group of diverse young (aged 19-30) North End leaders, thanks to funding from the Inspirit Foundation. If you’re curious about that work, please get in touch.  And still another: to secure some core funding to allow the NECC to fulfill its potential.  Again, feel free to get in touch!

Here’s to another year of bringing people together to make good things happen.




The value of the roundtable; November’s notes

I bumped into a contact on Gottingen St. this morning. “When is the next roundtable?” he asked. “I’ve got to be there.”

He’d read these notes – NorthEndRoundtableNov4.2014 –  and said he felt like he needed to set up a meeting with everyone who was at the November roundtable. He’s fired up to make positive change with families in North End Halifax and he sees the roundtable as a way to connect with resources to help him do just that.

The next roundtable will happen December 2, 9 a.m., at Veith House. All are welcome.

In between roundtables, the bulletin board the best way to get news out to the North End. Send your .pdf or .jpg poster to necchalifax at – no tacks or staples required!  Use the social media buttons below to then share widely.  And don’t forget the ever active NECC Facebook group, now with almost 350 members.


The result of our community conversation on Oct. 15




Wow – thank you to Corrie Melanson, a busy and talented North End mom, who helped turn our thoughts into a beautiful roadmap for the North End Community Circle.  This is going to decorate the NECC office at Veith House .  Come and see it yourself after the next North End roundtable on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 9 a.m.  All are welcome around the table, especially those who work or volunteer to make North End Halifax an even better place to live.

Building community – in two ways

NECCOct15posterThe North End Community Circle is a bit of a hard beast to explain, but essentially we work in two different ways.  We engage service providers – that is, people who work to make life better, in whatever way, for residents of Halifax’s North End – to help them connect and collaborate.  That includes creating the bulletin board on this website, where any organization can advertise their events or programs.  And it includes the monthly roundtable at 9 a.m. on the first Tuesday at Veith House. The District 8 councillor, staff at non-profits, members or leaders of congregations and active volunteers  efficiently highlight what we’re working on and what we need. See the notes from the October roundtable here:  RoundtableOct7.2014

A second way we work is by engaging directly with the people who live in our neighbourhood – by building a community garden, by hosting a massive barbecue each June and by hosting events like this one that’s coming up.  Come, why don’t you?  And if you’re free to help cook on the afternoon of Oct. 15, get in touch:  necchalifax at



Five ways to build community in North End Halifax (in the next few weeks)


Saturday, Oct. 4, 12- 4 p.m., NECC garden, just off Union St. at Needham Park parking lot. The NECC garden is expanding.  Come help us assemble new beds and fill them with soil.



(We’ll also be unloading some manure on Thursday, Oct. 2, from about 3:30 – 4:30. No joke. This is #2.  Send a note to if you want to wield a shovel.)


Tuesday, Oct. 7, 9 a.m., Veith House: the regular North End Roundtable is a chance for organizations and individuals to share news of programs and identify ways to collaborate.  (Notes from the September roundtable are here: North End Roundtable Sept 9,2014 .)  All are welcome.


Wednesday, Oct. 15, 5 – 7 p.m., Mulgrave Park United Baptist Church, 5666 Sebastian St. Please join your neighbours (and invite one!) for a community meal and a chance to celebrate the good things happening in the North End. All ages welcome. Thanks to a Community Development Fund grant from the Halifax Community Health Board, we have funds to cover both food costs and childcare.  All the same, we’ll celebrate all the gardening that’s happening in North End backyards and community gardens by creating a Stone Salad (a variation on Stone Soup).  Please bring spare greens: lettuce, kale, nasturtium flowers or leaves, chives, etc.  We’ll contribute the Hope Blooms salad dressing – as well as the main course, of course.


Can you volunteer to help cook a healthy meal for a crowd on the afternoon of Oct. 15?  If so, please contact Lisa.


New digs for the NECC

This is NECC’s first day in residence at Veith House. After years of support and development under the Community Justice Society, and particularly the leadership of Yvonne Atwell, the North End Community Circle brought a proposal to the Veith House board – and earlier in September, it was accepted with enthusiasm.

The NECC is now the community development program of Veith House. Our mandate, though, has not changed: the NECC exists to promote a sense of community belonging and build relationships across diversity. We’ll continue to publicize the work of all organizations that serve the North End of Halifax and create spaces where those organizations and residents can come together.

Community facilitator Lisa Roberts has an office with a big window on the bottom floor. It’s right next door to the kitchen which – in our dreams and intentions – will soon be a functional community kitchen. (It needs some wiring…)

For now, the coffee is always on in the main Veith House office, so grab a cup and come find Lisa during her regular hours: for now, Monday-Wednesday, 9 – 12:45 a.m.   (She’ll continue to do social media and other work at odd hours by laptop.)

The Community Justice Society will continue to participate in the NECC as one of the many organizations that help to make life better for North End residents. United Way funding – for 2012-2015 – will also be managed by CJS until the end of that project .

June: the NECC leans in!

The NECC is giving June all we’ve got.  Please mark your calendars for June 18 (rain date June 19) when we’ll host the 3rd North End Community Barbecue at Isleville Park.  Please bring your water bottle, a lawn chair or picnic blanket, and your neighbours!3rd Annual NECC Community BBQ 2014

Friends at Mulgrave Park United Baptist Church are bringing multiple barbecues so hopefully the line-ups will be just long enough for you to have a chat with someone new.   Thanks to them and to Phoenix Youth for helping make the barbecue a success.   If you – or your favourite local business – would like to donate to the feast, contact us or just sign up here.

On June 7, we built a garden!   The site was covered in scrub and scattered with litter when we first saw it on May 9.  Now there are 14 garden beds ready to be planted, including one for Needham Pre-School and a community bed where anyone is welcome to pluck a tomato or a pea come harvest time.

We’ll be planting on Thursday evening, June 12, at 5:30, if you have extra seeds or transplants to share. We’ve already received – and planted – a saskatoon berry bush and await some raspberry canes and rhubarb. There are abundant wild blueberry bushes now.   This should be a delightful and edible public space for years to come.



Before changing into our garden clothes, we hosted the last North End Multi-Service Roundtable before a summer break.  Here are the notes: RoundtableJune3.   It was wonderful to get news from many organizations working to make North End Halifax a yet better place to live.

Gardens galore

It’s a time for planting and growth in the North End.  On June 7, this lovely group of gardeners – plus half a dozen more – will build and install raised beds on a piece of land we’ve been allocated by HRM.  It’s just south-east of the parking lot for Needham Park, off Union St.   Currently it’s a mix of scrub, weeds, saplings and blueberry bushes – which we’ll keep!  But there’s lots of room for 12 raised beds plus a community rhubarb patch.IMG_6916

We’re looking for help – and moral support, and transplants of herbs, and company – from the wider community. And so we’re doing the garden build as an #100in1day intervention    Hope to see you Saturday afternoon!

Huge kudos to Progress in the Park who built their beds in Mulgrave Park on May 24.  Paige Farah and Chelsea Tims talked about the community garden project on CBC radio. Their beds – by Home Harvest – are things of beauty and the community has lots of room to grow.

p.s. June 3, 9 a.m. at Veith House, will be the last North End Multi-Stakeholder Roundtable before September.  It’s a great opportunity for organizations that serve North End Halifax to connect.  The notes  from the May roundtable are here
if you want to see what you missed last month.

So much happening in the North End. (Now just imagine a community hub at St. Patrick’s – Alexandra…

Twenty organizations serving the North End – from Cogswell to Devonshire – met at Veith House last week for the monthly North End Multi-Service roundtable.  (Read about the concept here.)  It was a rich exchange of concerns and opportunities.

One recurrent theme: as a community, we need to increase meaningful volunteer opportunities for youth.   Multiple organizations – including Phoenix Youth, Family SOS and the Community Justice Society  – are looking for placements.  Please dive into the notes (May 6- NECCnotesRoundtable) if you want to get in touch with them.  There are other great nuggets in the notes too, including opportunities to get help quitting smoking, learn mental health first aid and enjoy free recreation programs.

Our last roundtable before summer will be June 3 at 9 a.m. at Veith House.   If you think you could learn something or contribute something, please feel welcome.  The idea is simply to bring people into the same room so that more good things can happen through the relationships that are built… sort of the like the good stuff that could happen by having the three organizations that make up the North Central Community Council come together under the roof of St. Patrick’s-Alexandra.

Here’s a letter of support for the NCCC sent to Halifax Regional Council by NECC coordinator Lisa Roberts.

“12 May 2014

 Dear members of council,

I am a north end resident and work as community facilitator with the North End Community Circle, a project of the Community Justice Society that connects with dozens of North End-serving organizations (includes churches, non-profits, schools, etc.) and more than a hundred North End residents.  I am writing to tell you that there is widespread support for community-determined redevelopment of the St. Patrick’s-Alexandra site and a sense that this is an opportunity not-to-be-missed.  

As the staff report itself reflects, the North Central Community Council (NCCC) brings together three established, stable non-profit groups in Central Halifax, each of which has a track record of serving the community. Further, each of the three partners in the NCCC already maintains older properties and manages to do that – despite challenges – while developing programs that respond to the needs of historically marginalized citizens of Halifax.  They are up to the challenge that the staff report also outlines.

You have an opportunity, with this decision, to inject some balance into the development of downtown Halifax. The peninsula – and specifically, Gottingen St. and Agricola St. – are buzzing with new local restaurants and businesses.  Real estate prices have easily doubled in the past eight years. This is good news, but not if long-time residents are left feeling excluded.  Families and individuals should be able to move from public housing or rental housing to home ownership without leaving the peninsula, as this proposal would allow.

The non-profits that make up the NCCC have been extremely resourceful and even entrepreneurial in their approach to managing scarce resources. They likewise deserve a home.  At the June 26, 2013 public meeting, residents described the M’ikmaw Native Friendship Centre (MNFC) on Gottingen St. as “bursting at the seams.”  An institution like this belongs in or near downtown and we’re fortunate to have this chance before us.

Frankly, condos aren’t where community is built, but many people who live in those condos will also value the recreation programs, film screenings, community gatherings and services that can flourish in a community hub like the NCCC envisions.

This decision is important in its substance: this is a large piece of land, in an important location, and what happens on it matters to people with a long connection to the school and to the partners of the NCCC.  The message that you will send with your decision also matters enormously.  You can make a decision on St. Patrick’s Alexandra that will redress some of the historic wrongs committed by the city Halifax – and indeed, Canada as a whole – and move us towards a better future as a city.  Does Halifax Regional Municipality care about all of its residents?  When it can, will it use its power to help shape a more equitable future?  

Please take this opportunity on our behalf.”