Atlantic Canada’s rural areas may be in decline, but a conference planned for Georgetown this fall could start to change that.
Newspapers Atlantic, which represents 70 newspapers in the region, is spearheading The Georgetown Conference in October in the hopes of starting work that will revitalize Atlantic Canada’s rural communities.
Former UPEI president Wade MacLauchlan, who is one of the conference chairs, said the organizers have already been hearing from people about some of the things they are doing on their own to improve their communities throughout Atlantic Canada.
That’s the kind of thing the organizers are looking for, he said.
“The conference is aiming to bring together what we call the doers and producers from the towns and rural areas of Atlantic Canada.”
MacLauchlan said they want to create the feeling of a network or movement through which people can learn from each other.
“There’s a tremendous amount that is going on, that people have been doing and that these are people who are recognizing the challenges and doing something about it,” he said.
Joining MacLauchlan as co-chairs are Oxford Fine Foods founder John Bragg, former Caisses Populaires Acadiennes CEO Gilles LePage and Newfoundland and Labrador based Rising Tide Theatre founder Donna Butt.
Throughout the three-day conference, participants will take in sessions on a range of topics including business in rural areas and rural community sustainability, although the full schedule has yet to be completed.
“The conference is aiming to bring together what we call the doers and producers from the towns and rural areas of Atlantic Canada.” - Conference chair Wade MacLauchlan
MacLauchlan said a lot of talk about rural areas has been focused on government, but the conference will be free of government involvement or funding.
“Government clearly has to be part of the solution, but there have to be other ways for people to take their own initiative and to see how we can be creative and to work with the assets we have,” he said.
He also said one of the things that sold him on the conference was that newspapers throughout the region took the initiative on the project to connect with communities at a grass roots level.
“In a few words, it’s recognizing in order to have a vital newspaper you have to have a vital community,” he said.
The Guardian is not a Newspapers Atlantic member.
For more information on The Georgetown Conference or to get involved visit www.thegeorgetownconference.ca.