Exploring Deepening Community in Atlantic Canada

Posted on November 25, 2020
By Dan Ritchie

Hi, I’m Dan Ritchie, the newest member of the Cities Deepening Community team. As a Manager of Cities, I will support members who want to develop neighbourhood plans. Joining the Tamarack Institute at the beginning of November has been an exciting experience for me, especially during this period of great uncertainty.Nova Scotia

A bit about me. I was formally introduced to grassroots community development through Big Cove YMCA Camp in 2005. Growing up in Atlantic Canada gave me a strong connection to the natural world and I came to appreciate the influence that nature can have on our sense of self, and connection with others. Being from Halifax, Nova Scotia, I’ve had the experience of growing up in a large city that often feels like a small town. While completing a Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability in Karlskrona, Sweden in 2019, I had the privilege of co-learning with classmates from 29 countries. During my time abroad, I gained skills in helping diverse groups to establish plans to reach a shared vision aimed at improving society. A part of the the position of Manager of Cities is about listening to communities to understand the challenges and opportunities that they are facing. We then develop learning opportunities and connect peers across Canada.

With a seemingly accelerated pace of our lives and increased social isolation, the Cities Deepening Communities team is well positioned to support members to deepen their collective understanding of the power and possibility of community by developing strategies at the neighbourhood or city level. The opportunity to work with the Tamarack Institute makes me feel as though I am returning to my roots of community development and joining the Tamarack team at this unprecedented time, is in my mind, a true gift. 

From my experience I have three principles that guide my thinking:

  • The connection between our society and the environment are completely interdependent
  • No one organization can single handedly solve the complex problems faced by society
  • Collaboration involves gaining a shared understanding of the issues, mutual respect and a commitment to learn together 

In addition, Cities Deepening Communities is dedicated to holding the container for collaboration and life-long learning. That’s something I don’t take lightly. In 2019 I had the opportunity to support a Bulgarian youth leadership not-for-profit, Smokinya Foundation. While acting as a consultant, I was a part of a group responsible for supporting the development of a strategic plan. During this experience my team addressed the organization's challenges around uncertainty, political corruption and moments of doubt. Part of what brought success from this experience was being able to help the organization find their purpose and gain clarity. I want to continue this work by listening to the challenges Cities Deepening Community members face and helping find a path forward.

To have the ability to meet and connect with leaders from around the world in inspiring. As I continue to work with the Tamarack Institute, I am excited to connect with those making change in their neighbourhoods and beyond. I am always open to discussing the benefits of joining our growing membership network at Cities Deepening Community. If you want to reach me directly contact me at:

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Community Building, Cities Deepening Community, Dan Ritchie

Dan Ritchie

By Dan Ritchie

Dan has recently joined the Vibrant Communities team as Manager of Cities, Cities Deepening Community. His background ranges from supporting health care, youth leadership and sustainability. With an introduction to community development through not for profits, Dan's formative years were spent running outdoor leadership programs for youth across Nova Scotia. These experiences led to completing a Bachelor in Community Development and Environmental Sustainability from Acadia University. This program involved working directly with grassroots organizations and community groups in Canada and abroad.

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