Tuesday, 16 July 2013

THE 500+ km ROAD TO GEORGETOWN: a Geographer's Storytelling Trek

Dr Bob Maher
Edward Wedler

Dr.Bob Maher and Edward Wedler are planning a 500+ km trek (from Yarmouth NS to Georgetown PEI) starting in September 2013 to raise awareness of the Georgetown conference theme "Redefining Rural" and to collect and share rural stories.

Each citizen has unique qualities. Communities grow through its citizens and those communities then create their own culture and commerce. 

They are to collect and share stories about rural people-redefined -- their lives, communities, and geography. 

Monday, 20 May 2013


Bob Maher at the Road to Georgetown Conference
The Georgetown conference in October is an Atlantic Canada meeting to look at ‘redefining rural’. As part of the lead up to the event, the local community, supported by the Annapolis Spectator, proposed two initiatives: a series of Georgetown Letters, where citizens could submit their ideas to the weekly newspaper, and a one day conference called ‘The Road to Georgetown’ (R2G). This event on May 4th provided the audience with a context: a Skype call to Greg Baeker on the Creative Rural Economy and a presentation by Mark Austin on the findings from the commission on building the Nova Scotia economy. In the afternoon, Edward Wedler hosted a storytelling session that allowed local residents to describe their experience living in this area. The passion shown by the storytellers about their ‘sense of place’ was inspirational. 

We learned two lessons from May 4th: 
 a) Web technology can be a powerful vehicle for sharing ideas and information about ‘place’ (see audio, photographs and links throughout this website)
b) There is real strength in the informal networks throughout rural Nova Scotia. 

From this experience, we (Edward Wedler and Bob Maher) had to answer the question: what is the next step in civic engagement? 

First, we recognize that Atlantic Canada is a mosaic of unique geographies. Rather than getting caught up in administrative boundaries, we need to think in terms of logical landscape units. If we are going to share stories, then we need a common geography. Thus – redefining the Annapolis Valley. This is not to be exclusive. Simply put, there are many similarities – climate, topography, soils in the Annapolis Valley that supports a long agricultural history. 

Second, we can use new technologies (maps and web) to address themes important to the region. One theme is demography. Can we provide learning opportunities that bring together youth and boomer professionals? 

This leads us learning how to reinvent the existing institutions.

Next Steps 
1) Share the results of the R2G conference with the larger region 
2) Expand our networks to address youth engagement 
3) Initiate conversations with existing institutions about network technology, content, and future vision.