© Dave Mathieson - Amherst Daily News
With the Georgetown Conference only two months over the horizon people gathered Thursday night to discuss what they hope the conference can, and will, achieve. Moderating the information session last night at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre was Christopher Gooding (back, left) and Andrew Wagstaff (back, right) of the Citizen-Record.
SPRINGHILL - People often look to government to get the economy on the right track. The Georgetown Conference, Redefining Rural, is bringing people together to build a new track of their own.
The conference is Oct. 3 to 5, in Georgetown, P.E.I., and Shannon Jones of Broadfork Farm in River Hebert is excited about it.
"I think rural communities have true wealth and abundance and I think we have to value what we have," said Jones, who was at the Georgetown Conference information session Thursday night at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre.
Jones grew up in Winnipeg and Ottawa and has lived, worked and operated Broadfork Farm in River Hebert with Bryan Dyck for almost two years.
"Rural communities have a lot of value and more to offer."
Jones says skills are also very important in rural communities.
"There are many skills we could use to improve our business, like a local blacksmith, a local welder or a local machinist," added Jones. "Those are complementary to what we need."
Heather Spidell of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, Education and Development said a lot can be learned from people like Jones.
"When I hear that 90 per cent of youth would stay here if the opportunity presented itself, one of the ways they will be able to stay is exploring entrepreneurship," said Spidell. "You don't want to rely on government and companies to find their way.”
Spidell said doing business in rural areas is different than doing business in urban areas.
“There is a lot that can be learned from rural communities," she added. "We need to listen more and learn more from rural communities, and Georgetown is an opportunity to do that."
It is people like Jones and Spidell who will make up the 250 delegates from throughout the Maritimes attending the conference.
Christopher Gooding and Andrew Wagstaff of the Citizen-Record moderated last night's information session.
They said the conference is an opportunity for people to gather and learn new ways to improve their communities and how to put that information into action.
Gooding said people from throughout the Maritimes and from all walks of life will be attending the three-day conference.
"There will be seminars and people leading discussions, but the real magic could happen when people have conversations at the supper table," said Gooding. "New ideas will build and people will come back to their communities and talk to people in their community and put what they've learned into action."
Gooding said the Citizen-Record will profile people who come back from the conference.
"Coming back with a head full of ideas is one thing, but making sure people know you have positive ideas will continue the networking process," said Gooding.
Wagstaff was pleased with the turnout at last night’s session, saying it brought people together from throughout Cumberland County, representing different constituencies.
"I'm really happy with what happened here tonight. It was like a mini-Georgetown Conference," said Wagstaff.
The conference is hosted by Newspaper Atlantic, which encompasses 70 rural community newpapers in the Atlantic region, with a combined circulation of 700,000.
The conference is chaired by four Atlantic Canadians: Wade MacLauchlan of Stanhope, P.E.I., John Bragg of Collingwood, N.S., Gilles LePage of Caraquet, N.B. and Donna Butt of Trinity, Nfld.