Conference exceeds all expectations; challenge now to put words into action
© Guardian photo by Steve Sharratt
Sign at entrance to Town of Georgetown (10/02/13)
The real challenge following the Georgetown Conference, like any think-tank exercise, is to transfer lofty goals and inspiring words into ground floor action. There was no lack of ideas, networking and contacts coming from the conference. The 250 delegates heard about rural issues and how to revitalize struggling communities. They must now return to their communities and start to work.
Perhaps the best advice at the conference came from Doug Griffiths, who wrote a book, 13 Ways To Kill Your Community. The Alberta municipal affairs minister said each citizen must decide that he or she is going to make a difference and start doing it. There is no sense in waiting for a neighbour to do a project. If people in a small community decide to deal with an issue themselves, then there will be real change.
Griffiths said it’s all too easy for rural areas to undermine themselves and their neighbours, to throw up their hands in despair and complain that all services and opportunities have packed up and gone to the cities.
Living in the past, not taking a risk, accepting the status quo and not taking responsibility are all sure recipes for the collapse of rural communities. The excuse “It’s the way we’ve always done it” is not working folks. It’s an excuse for inaction, shrugging off responsibility and failing to live up to the obligations and duties of being a citizen.
Some people just don’t care about their rural communities and are more than willing to take the easy way out by moving to the city, disappearing into that larger community, happy to become a minor statistic on a census form and expect all their needs to be taken care off by someone else.
Others will stay out of loyalty, willing to accept the small inconveniences and commit themselves to making things better for their children, their neighbours, community and province. These are the people that rural communities need, people who still have a pioneering spirit, the same spirit which built rural P.E.I. in the first place.
Organizer Paul MacNeill said the event exceeded his expectations, especially when he heard communities in Atlantic Canada started talking to each other before the event started and carried that momentum into Georgetown. Delegates were committed or they wouldn’t have shown up.
You had to figure the conference was going to be a success when three Annapolis County residents from Nova Scotia decided they were going to walk from Yarmouth to Georgetown, gathering ideas along the way. Now that is commitment.
Cure run a huge success
The annual Run For The Cure has quickly become one of the most visible and well-organized charity events in the province. It obviously benefits from having a committed sponsor in CIBC which has a national organizational network.
It has a specific charity attached, the fight against breast cancer. In many ways, Run For The Cure has surpassed the Terry Fox Runs, a general event raising money in the battle against cancer. The Fox run is the granddaddy of charity events but it’s more than 30 years old and is in need of new leadership and ideas because it is suffering from a lack of volunteers and declining donations.
Last weekend, more than 1,000 participants took part in the Run For The Cure event in Charlottetown at Confederation Landing Park on Sunday, raising almost $148,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. It is an event that brings together family and friends in support of loved ones who are fighting cancer. Other charities could certainly look at this event as an example to follow.