The most interesting Christmas gift of the year came in five boxes.
More exactly, the most interesting gift was five boxes.
Each one is marked:
The idea is that these are boxes to put all your troubles in.
The Five Second box is the biggest. This is where you put a lot of problems. Someone wasn't nice to you. You got cut off in traffic. There was a loud noise. Most of your problems can go in this box, put away, and be forgotten.
The next is the Five Minute Box. It's pretty big too because it's got to hold all the things that you are putting off: notes to write, calls to answer, bulbs to change, laundry to pick up. All the things that are weighting you down and making you feel guilt because you're putting them off. Most of them only take about five minutes to fix.
The Five Hour box holds some serious problems: missed flights, lost stuff, burnt meals, headaches, complex conversations all go in this box.
And then that's just about it for troubles.
The Five Day box holds things you want to learn, to fix, to accomplish. A work week is five days. But so is a creative week and a holiday week. Learn to draw faces, learn the basics of an instrument, plant a garden... you can learn to weld and build a bicycle from scratch in five days in the right setting. There are very few things you can't start, or stop, in five days.
In Five Years? You can change just about anything, even the world. Get a degree. Change careers. Write a book. Start a business. Build a body. Train to run marathons. Have a decent sized family. Walk around the world. Change the government. There's little a person can't do or change with five years.
So that's it. Done. A place for everything. All the clutter of all your troubles sorted. Now you can take the biggest box, the five second box, and throw it away. Right now. You don't need any of that stuff. Then get down to the five minute box and start chunking at it. It'll only take... five minutes. Keep the five hour box handy 'cause that's where you put the regular stuff of life. And find a special place for the little five day and five year box, and keep them open where you can see them. These problems are actually all your opportunities and they will form the shape of things to come in 2016. It's going to be great.
The difference between finding a career and finding a purpose takes a little work.
The idea is a system that trades students university education for service to the community.
I believe we should fuse together various existing NS programs, policies and strategies and add an innovative approach to form a branded plan for ‘total education’ of Nova Scotian's children. The idea echoes Kennedy's Peace Corps, an institution that still resonates with young people and helps make a better, more connected world 65 years after it was started.
The Nova Scotia Youth Corps (NSYC) would provide the region with valuable public works such as national and provincial public park maintenance, forestry (maintenance and fire-fighting), conservation management (erosion control projects), disaster response and recovery operations, public infrastructure improvement projects, organizing public events and festivals, beautification projects, security augmentation, public social programs (for seniors and vulnerable citizens), statistical projects (like an HRM tree inventory) and all kinds of administrative support to provincial and local governments.
Youth would "enlist" in the NSYC for 2-4 years, earning 30 days of annual leave and medical benefits during the period. Honorably-discharged NSYC "veterans" would earn college tuition assistance (1 year paid per 1 year served) and some experience could even count toward course credits.
To accomplish the potential of this organization we should draw on our greatest growing resource of the next 25 years. The greying pensioned workforce with their health, wealth and knowledge have so much left to contribute to Nova Scotia. We need to find structured systems to allow them the opportunity to help.
The NSYC idea is really just an organization and branding (a marketing aspect of the policy) of many and varied programs already in place. It would provide long-term investment in Nova Scotia's communities and help restore a sense of collective duty to the greater good to Nova Scotia that many older citizens who served in their youth contend is necessary for long-term cultural health and survival. The NSYC would help young people explore and discover Nova Scotia in a meaningful way, bringing rural kids to an urban setting and visa versa. Young people who’ve worked to build Nova Scotia and make it a better place will have a greater stake in the community.
This helps with:
1. Problems with university tuition, affordability and debt
2. Current high youth unemployment and future shortages in the workforce due to looming retirement of large numbers of baby-boomers.
3. Deterioration of civic understanding and involvement at the local and provincial level.
4. General workforce knowledge gap of government-industry capabilities and opportunities.
5. Keeping young people positively engaged. Reducing youth crime and vandalism.
6. Freeing up some of the economic burden of education costs that could then be redirected to retirement, savings, healthcare, etc.
7. Providing a systematic influx of young people with the energy and innovative ideas that are desperately needed within the government to affect change necessary in the 21st century.
8. Providing a catalyst to reinvigorate the sense of service and community at all levels, and have knowledge of government enabling them to capitalize on capabilities and opportunities along government-industry seam.
9. Develop the ‘stake’ and investment young people have in their home communities.
10. Breaking down the urban/rural divide through a sense of One Nova Scotia
11. Getting things done. Undertaking important projects (like beautification) that might not otherwise be prioritized.
As a bonus, Nova Scotia could send the best of the best NSYC volunteers on international missions to help in foreign countries during disasters or humanitarian crisis, thereby expanding our awareness and knowledge of the world and creating a new sense of pride in our abilities while also promoting Nova Scotia’s friendly, helpful style on the world stage better than any bureaucratic tourism or marketing program.
In 2016 I'll be listing and discussing some BFI's (Big F$%^king Ideas) to help improve Nova Scotia and concern ourselves with the shape of things to come. I'm planning to post about one a week and collecting 52 ideas. I'll make some appointments and pitch the ones that get the most interest to key players in government and the political parties. That said, I don't think the answer is in government - I think it's in the power of the idea itself.
I'll also be posting a cumulative reading list that vamps simpatico with these ideas. Generally, I'm interested in geopolitics, economics, story, ideas, argument, beauty and self-improvement. I also like the idea of being mechanically minded and technology with user serviceable parts inside.
Nova Scotia could be first in making major economic development, social, ecological and government/bureaucratic breakthroughs. These are ideas for today, 2016 and beyond. Here's a preview of what I'm working on...
Nova Scotia Tax Credit Incentive for the most important new business start-up tool in the world.
New Nova Scotia proposal suggests film industry type labour-based refundable corporate tax credit system for a wide variety of start-up, creative, cultural and social businesses.
Crowdfunding has quickly moved from trendy buzzword to a mainstream fundraising model. In less than ten years, Kickstarter has attracted more than ten million contributors pledging over $2 billion, funding more than 100,000 individual projects. Rival fundraising platform Indiegogo can boast of a campaign that single-handedly generated $12 million in pledges. Numbers like these make crowdfunding an attractive option for first-time entrepreneurs and established businesses alike.
But even with tools like this available to creators; business starters and job creators in Nova Scotia are still at a deep disadvantage. Our communities have been drained of capital. Networking opportunities to connect with people who have knowledge, experiences, connections, assets and capital are rare because there is simply very few of those people and things within a thousand miles of Nova Scotia. Worse, supply lines, scenes, mentors, talent and all the things that inspire business success are almost as rare as debt and equity financing. Almost. Nova Scotia, like all rural regions has been nearly sucked dry of our natural resource created wealth. Our productivity, a measure of how well capital is employed in an economy, is less than 75% of the Canadian average, which in turn is only 75% of US productivity.
We are at a deep geopolitical and productivity disadvantage. Even as the US exchange rate tips the scales heavily in favour of Canadian business, it does not make up for the more than 40% productivity disadvantage and the geopolitical disadvantages. When US money does come to Canada it's coming to Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal and we have no currency advantage over those competitors.
But there is a way! A proven strategy that is egalitarian, accessible, easy to administrate, accountable and effective. It can improve capital investment and start-ups by an order of magnitude within one year and double that within ten. It's a strategy created right here in Nova Scotia, proven to work in creative industries and copied Federally, by other provinces and states, and countries the world over. We are experts at administrating it.
Labour-based Refundable Corporate Tax Credits.
Applying the Tax Credit strategy, the unlikely Nova Scotia-made economic development success story of the last 20 years, that created and grew the film and TV industry in Nova Scotia can be used to attract and grow Kickstarter-based business start-ups in, and to, Nova Scotia. If we act quickly we can become the Kickstarter capital of Canada within two years. The goal in the first year would simply be to 'punch our weight' in the Canadian start-up market place. To do that we'd have to increase our business ten fold. An attainable, measurable goal.
The idea is simply this: Successful Kickstarter campaigns, meaning projects that have successfully raised their financing, produced their product, whatever it is, and reported their business results as an incorporated Nova Scotia company with intellectual property rights owned majority by Nova Scotians (defined as people who pay taxes in Nova Scotia), are eligible to receive a labour-based tax credit up to 50% of their Nova Scotia labour expenditure or 25% of their total Kickstarter financing, whichever is less.
The Tax Credit system has many favourable features and advantages over poor performing and ill-defined economic development strategies.
Kickstarter by the numbers https://www.kickstarter.com/year/2014/data?ref=yir2014
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.