This week I finally got to formally interview our pals Vic and Brynn about their project in Springfield, Nova Scotia, just about a 15 minute drive from New Germany. I initially met Brynn online on Facebook through the Off-Grid Nova Scotia group when we were doing our quarantine up in Pictou last year. They shared that they were on their way out east all the way from Edmonton, Alberta, to a piece of land they had purchased, but not yet seen.
We were mostly chatting online as fellow newcomers, sharing some of the things we had learned or were actively trying to learn about. Fast forward a few weeks once we had settled on the property and I met both Brynn and their partner Vic in person for the first time at Firkinstein Brewing Company in downtown Bridgewater for a beer.
Vic and Brynn are both delightful characters, exceptionally approachable and friendly people. I felt like when we met we slid right into conversation like a bunch of old friends who hadn't seen one another in ages.
Talking with them was also like an immersive experience in living social theory. As someone who is pretty knowledgeable in this area, it was quite a delight to talk with them about their hopes and dreams for their new home, undaunted by their lived experiences and motivated by a sincere wish for compassionate and accessible housing for all.
It was also very educational since most of the social theory that I was passionate about focused largely on labor and feminism, while Vic and Brynn bring in a whole other very cool dynamic discussing LGBTQIA2S+ theory and the sociology of architecture. Since I left the world of Academia 5+ years ago, I haven't had much call to engage in that kind of conversation and it was very cool and rather inspiring to talk with them about their plans for their home. I had this distinct feeling like I had somehow become the embittered old person worn out by the world and being around them just made me feel optimistic and excited about what kind of world we could create together. So yeah, I'd say our friendship was off to a good start.
Vic and Brynn have since named their project "Crows' Commons" and you can follow their project on Instagram. I think you really ought to listen to their explanation of their project in their own words (see Queer Out Here Part 2 above) because I don't know if I could give such articulation any justice in writing. If I could sum it up in a few sentences, I would say that they are creating a space for LGBTQIA2S+ to be visible rurally here in Nova Scotia, to create access to farm land to those who face barriers to it, to create a space for creativity and the joy of human expression and to create housing to those who may never be able to afford something like this on their own. Considering that Nova Scotia is facing a HUGE housing crisis at the moment, I really applaud their desire to turn their privileges into resources for others.
These two created a beautiful and inviting outdoor kitchen out of upcycled pallets and have spent the last nine months living in a canvas tent with nothing but a wood stove to keep them warm and fed. If that isn't just about all the notches on a survivalists belt, I'm not sure what else is. I have so much respect for their attention to detail and resiliency.
Neither Vic nor Brynn have any formal training or work experience in construction, but they have been working away steadily on their first building since September. If you needed further evidence of the potential of these two to achieve their goals, you should check out the specificity in which they built this structure. I have had the opportunity to help them on a couple of occasions raising some of the walls and putting up some of the rafters and I am just so in awe of how well they have built their first house.
I think I will interview Vic and Brynn again in the future to talk further on being Queer in rural Nova Scotia, as well as perhaps touch on some of the interesting conversations we have had over the year about gender identity. It has been so informative to me to learn more about the social transformation happening right now and as friends and members of that community, they have really brought it close to home for us. So stay tuned for another episode on that in the near future.
Looking back from last May to now, it's so wonderful to feel like they are being old friends instead of new acquaintances for Tyler and I. We all came to Nova Scotia with big dreams for ourselves and our land and I think we all truly want to contribute to building community with one another. It makes looking forward 20 years that much more exciting for us, filled with such possibility!