I just recently returned from the Georgetown Conference in Georgetown, PEI and I have to say it was an inspiring three days of rural revelation! The conference was jammed packed with intellectuals and passionate speakers who shared their stories about how they have invested their time and money into rural communities and both them and the communities are prospering because of it.
One of many speakers that attended the conference was Doug Griffiths, who co-authored the book called “13 Ways to Kill Your Community”, and I have to say it is one of the best books I’ve read about rural community development. Ironic as the title may sound – it is possibly the exact thing that most communities are doing. We don’t mean to do it – but we are! Chapter 7 – Don’t Cooperate is the chapter that stands out the most to me. Refusing to work with others on a project won’t mean the project will be doomed to failure; it simply means that the others will proceed without you. Community groups need to partner on common goals, communities need to partner with neighbouring communities – working together assures everyone a greater chance of success than working independently and those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
I’ve also come to realize that we depend on government too much and it's up to the people to take the lead and be a part of the solution to rural sustainability. We don’t need to do great things to make great changes – every small effort makes a difference. No community is too small – we just need to shed the negativity of others telling us that we are. I will leave you with this last quote that Doug Griffiths said in his speech, “The only way ever to ensure the success of any community is for the community itself to decide it wants to be successful.”
Smith’s Harbour, NL