More than 60 people gathered in Antigonish on March 24th for a People’s School on Affordable Housing. Co-hosted by the Extension Department at StFX and the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (AAHS), the People’s School brought together community groups and concerned citizens, as well as service providers, elected officials, and researchers/educators from across the province.
The aim of the People’s School was to build awareness about the current state of affordable housing in Nova Scotia, and to initiate a broader conversation about what communities can do collectively to make a real difference in the lives of people living on low incomes.
Participants had high praise for the gathering and the approach used by the organizers to share information, experiences and to explore various approaches to affordable housing. On their evaluation forms, participants identified their most significant learning. This included:
“I love the idea of a People’s School – it was new to me and I think it really works, so I will talk to others about this event, and about affordable housing.”
“I learned about lots of interesting strategies, websites, and people to help us move forward.”
Others commented on the diversity of the group: “Hearing the voices of African NS, First Nations and people’s lived experience! Seeing the connections with health and poverty and how marginalized communities are more impacted by the lack of affordable housing.”
Several participants identified the need to be unified around the issue and to continue gathering and building on the momentum created during the People’s School. As one put it, “There was a great synergy in the room … small groups making connections and becoming aware of a bigger emerging movement or perhaps a movement whose time has come again.”
Since it was created in 1928, the Extension Department has hosted numerous people’s schools on different topics including health, the economy and the Antigonish Movement. This year marks its 90th anniversary which participants celebrated during the event.
Extension staff are documenting the proceedings and the ideas generated during the People’s School on Affordable Housing and will post them on its website (www.stfxextension.ca) when they are completed.