Commentary

Huddle Turns One: What We’ve Learned

Huddle is now one year old.

The past year has been an interesting and pleasantly surprising journey. We started Huddle as a way to tell stories about entrepreneurs and innovators doing interesting things in the province. We didn’t want to be “economic development” cheerleaders, but rather highlight the real work people are putting into building businesses and lives in New Brunswick.

It’s been fun. We’ve met lots of smart people, and many hundreds-of-thousands of people have read stories about some of the good things happening in New Brunswick, not just here in the province but around the world. We appreciate your support and the social media shares to spread this news.

So here’s what we’ve learned so far:

There’s A Huge Appetite For Good News – New Brunswickers are starving for good news about the province. While there is plenty of economic and social bad news out there, some good things are happening. We have smart people doing innovative and interesting work all over the province and readers love hearing about them.

There’s A Huge Distrust Of Good News – While many people welcome positive stories, we’re so ingrained in being told that New Brunswick sucks that some distrust the idea of any good news at all – thinking if it is positive then it must be propaganda funded by government or big business. Well, we would rather light a candle than curse the darkness. (For the record, Huddle is independently owned and operated, and advertiser supported. We are not subsidized by taxpayers, like the CBC, or owned by any big business. We’re a small business trying to do something different and good for our home).

So Much Focus On Politics – New Brunswickers dwell far too much on politics. Maybe it’s because the province is small and our politicians are so close at hand. Legacy media covers politics relentlessly, but it’s not something we want to do at Huddle.

In this province we tend to look to government to solve all our problems. The reflexive response to any situation seems to be “What’s the government gonna do about it?” But here’s the thing – government, regardless of which party is in power, doesn’t have the tools to transform our weak economy on its own. We need to stop expecting that it will. Taking a greater personal and collective responsibility for the state of New Brunswick’s economy is the only way forward.

Yes, of course government should do a much better job delivering on things like an improved education system, a competitive tax regime, environmental protections and modern infrastructure. But we can’t be naïve enough to think that decisions made in Fredericton are truly going to influence a globalized economy. We need to step up.

We’ve Got More Work To Do – After one year, we’re generally happy with where Huddle has gone. Every day more people read it, share it and talk about the businesses covered. It’s been a good start. But what’s next?

We believe there’s lots more to be done. We want to tell more stories about people and ideas in the northern part of the province and in the Francophone and First Nations communities. We also want to dive deeper into the province’s economy, how our education system is failing us and how New Brunswick can find its place in a rapidly changing world.

Huddle was launched as an experiment and we are still very much a work in progress. We’re always interested in feedback as we try to make Huddle better. Thank you for being part of the journey and as always, let us know what you think.

– Lise Hansen, Allan Gates, Cherise Letson, Cara Smith, Jonathan Selig, Brandon Hicks