My name is Gabby Lowen-Favreau, and I am one of the Reps for Happy Human Project. I am a third-year student at Dalhousie University with a major in sociology and minor in entrepreneurship and innovation. Throughout my degree I have taken part in various Dalhousie clubs, but it has been challenging to locate programs that focused on the Halifax community outside of the student population. My experience as a student at Dalhousie has been changed by engaging beyond the Dalhousie community through the program RISE by Apathy Is Boring.
I am originally from Toronto, Ontario so moving to Halifax was a big step. It was really hard to leave my family and friends. My first semester at Dalhousie was the last normal one before COVID-19 started, which meant I was able to somewhat ground myself in the Dalhousie community through classes, friends and clubs. Once the pandemic hit, it led me to spend most of my time inside with my roommates in an isolation bubble. I found it hard to stay motivated to do anything beyond schoolwork, as many people did. After spending three semesters online, inside and isolated I wanted to do something that would reconnect me with the outside world. I was unmotivated and nervous to do this seeing as I’d spent so much time inside and with the same people. After a lot of procrastination and overthinking, I finally forced myself to apply to a variety of jobs and organizations that are community-based. After hearing back from a few of the organizations I decided to join Halifax RISE by Apathy is Boring.
RISE is a program that is both youth-run and youth-targeted. It is focused on community engagement and resilience in cities. RISE has programs across Canada and runs projects for six-month periods. It is a volunteer position that anyone between the ages of 18-30 years old can apply for and no specific experience is necessary. Each six-month period is called a cohort, and within that time period, the cohort is responsible for developing a community-based project. The cohort can choose to take their project in any direction as long as it is filling the needs of a selected demographic of youth in their area. The cohort meets every week for three hours and then usually has additional work to do outside of that. The cohorts run for six months and throughout that time they go through the phases of planning and developing their project.
My cohort is working on a project that is targeted towards local artists called Learning to Become (Works of Art). This project is going to be a half-day event that will have public speakers for the purpose of teaching artists practical skills, such as how to apply for grants, file taxes, and build a resume. We conducted focus groups and used surveys as a way to understand and learn about artists’ practical resource needs in Halifax. Once we understood the demand, we began planning our event and delegating tasks. One thing I have really enjoyed about the planning process has been my ability to learn new skills and push myself to do things I wouldn’t usually do. After so long in isolation, I was nervous to lead a focus group; I had never done it before, but I felt very supported by the rest of my cohort and we all worked together to create a script and make sure everyone felt comfortable. The next six weeks of our project will involve marketing, budgeting, administrating and community outreach. All of those skills we will be learning together as a cohort with the support of Apathy Is Boring.
Being a student can feel like a bubble; sometimes I go weeks without leaving the campus or student neighbourhood. It can start to feel like the Dalhousie community is the only part of Halifax when you are a student, and that can feel overwhelming. I really enjoy being able to leave my house and regular social circle every week to meet up with my cohort. It has helped me to connect with people who aren’t students and have chances to talk with them about their jobs, family and life. It has honestly become a highlight of my week; it makes me feel grounded and reminds me that there is still a lot more to Halifax and life than school. I know how hard it can be to join something no matter what it is. I still get overwhelmed sometimes, but it is so worth it.
Our event Learning To Become (Works Of Art) Is still in the development stages, but it should be happening the first week of June. You can follow our Instagram @aisbrise_hfx to stay updated and applications are open for Cohort 10 which you can find at this link: https://www.apathyisboring.com/joinrise.