This year marks the first time that the Parish Collective has held a conference in Canada. Elle and yours truly were in attendance. We love people who are passionate and committed to their neighbourhoods. People who work hard to form communities that embody the gospel are our kind of people. If you’ve never been to a Parish Collective event before, let me tell you, they really are something special.

The first thing you will notice at a Parish collective event is the speaker list. This is a not list of heavy hitters on the Christian book circuit or a group of famous mega-church pastors. This is a diverse group of local practitioners, many not pastors, who are passionately and creatively working at something interesting in their neighbourhoods. This conference was about all about highlighting good ideas and fresh starts, big or small. Over the course of the two days we heard stories of church plants, people engaged in refugee settlement work, people who started homeless shelters, people who did assets based community research, and people who started community gardens and art movements. It reminded Elle and I, yet again, of that the fact that the Spirit is active in Canada and is inspiring all kinds of us to attempt new things for the sake of our neighbours. It was truly moving and inspiring to hear.

the Spirit is active in Canada and is inspiring all kinds of us to attempt new things for the sake of our neighbours Click To Tweet

There was something else I noticed at this conference. Something that I have often noticed at conferences like these. It’s something as Canadian as maple syrup and back bacon: Canadians don’t know each other. Maybe it’s a matter of geography. Canada is huge with a relatively small population. But the majority of the people in the room where no further than a few hours drive. Something else was going on. Something to do with the Canadian soul. I believe we don’t know each other because our self-effacing culture of politeness. It often doesn’t occur to us to tell our own story. It seems baked into our DNA to miss the fact that we might actually be up to something good. Something that might inspire others. We think our ideas have to be big before we share them. They have to selling millions to be worth talking about. And yet, simple ideas are more likely to inspire others to believe that they can do it too.

Elle recounted an example of this to me over supper. During one of the Parish Spotlights Tom Fenske, a New Leaf Design Shop alum, was sharing photos of his planting project. Elle, who has demonstrable networking skills and prides herself in working hard at knowing what is going on around her, slowly came to the realization that he was talking about her neighbourhood.

“Wait a second, that pub is in MY neighbourhood!”
“That park is just around the corner from MY house!”

I wish I could chalk this up to some quirk in Elle’s ability to network.
But that isn’t what’s going on here.
As a nation we have a congenital problem with telling our own stories.
And for the sake of each this needs to stop.

The New Leaf Network is working hard to bring to light hidden Canadian stories that are going on all around us. If you want to join us in our work here are a 3 simple ideas:

  1. The Podcast – if you catch a Canadian in the act of doing something neat tell us about them and we’ll get them on the podcast. Email us!
  2. The Blog – if you have been hard at work in your neighbourhood take a second to write down your story and send it to us. Believe us when we say, people will be interested! Email us!
  3. Learning Parties – invite us to come to your town and let us help you create a local conversation on any topic you think your community would be interested in. Learning Parties are a great way to surface the cool stories around you. These parties are a great way to make friends and get inspired by the courageous Canadians around you.

Here is a link New Leaf hotline. You can use it to report amazing behaviour from your fellow Canadians to us!