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West Kootenay EcoSociety becomes Neighbours United

A local non-profit is changing its name, but says the switch does not signal any other shift within the organization.

The West Kootenay EcoSociety, founded in 1994, is now Neighbours United.

“It felt like it was time to dig into what we do, which is bring people together to work on issues,” says executive director Montana Burgess.

She says the change is partly to reflect the fact their work takes place beyond the West Kootenay. The new name follows a long process that began at the board level in 2019, when the organization celebrated its 25th anniversary.

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“We engaged internally for a while and had meetings with a bunch of longtime members, did surveys and polls of members and supporters and whittled it down,” Burgess says. “Neighbours United was most popular among members.”

They have also adopted a new logo which is being rolled out this week.

Burgess thinks the EcoSociety brand was only well known in Nelson, which has been their traditional membership hub, and among those already familiar with the organization.

However, “I don’t think a ton of people in the region knew it. The last few years when we started organizing in Castlegar and Trail, folks were not familiar with the West Kootenay EcoSociety. It was a process to introduce it, and even still I’d say the majority of folks don’t know who we are and what we do.”

Burgess says they’ll spend the next few months explaining the change. She stresses that despite the name change, the group is the same.

“We’re not planning to change any of our programs, just trying to reach more people than we’ve traditionally reached.”

Founded as an environmental advocacy organization, Neighbours United is now involved in the Farms to Friends food security program, the 100% Renewable Kootenays initiative which encourages transition away from fossil fuel use, and other campaigns related to climate change, energy, and conservation.

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