Last week the Engage team was in Lochaber, Antigonish County, hosting an “Engagement Clinic” for Municipal Councillors and staff. We thought we’d be at a hall in downtown Antigonish, but it was booked, so we opted for the Lochaber Community Centre, 20 minutes outside of town. That meant more driving for our team, most participants, and the caterers. But we knew the Centre had been built out of the inspiration and support of the local community, making it a good example of what our event was about. Besides, we decided we could bring the food ourselves. We made the move.
We arrived Wednesday morning carrying boxes of nametags and supplies, bags of apples and candies, and boxes of quiche. Opening the doors and stepping into the space, we just stopped. The morning sunlight was streaming through a wall of windows that looked out onto a field and sparkling lake. Any anxieties about the day seemed to drop away.
The day unfolded easily, with lots of bubbly energy and conversation, and long lists of take-aways. We are grateful for everyone’s willingness to jump in and we are also grateful to the place, which silently played an important role in the success of the day.
When we think back to all the spaces we’ve been in for meetings and gatherings, we can’t help but notice the difference this “silent partner” can make. We don’t always notice its role, and we just adapt to fluorescent lights, fixed seating and drab surroundings. But if we want our meetings to truly inspire, and creativity to be unleashed, a well-lit and well-cared-for space can make all the difference.