Rural communities have resilience, and incredible potential. I was truly inspired on June 1st by individuals I met that Saturday in St. Lewis, Labrador.
I really found a love for this place as the people welcomed me into their homes and shared their talents, passions and past times with me and my colleague, Jason Spingle.
There are few places remaining in this province where one will see a wooden canoe being custom-built as a past time by a young man in the community. He may get his inspiration and talent from the senior boat builder in the family, who took time to show the newest wooden flat. We were told, he tends to make at least one a year for the past few decades. My dad was a boat builder. I remember him making his last flat bottom boat in my uncle’s store in the late 1990’s. There are many skills my father possessed that I would love to have. There is still time for me to learn, but the task much more difficult when the one with such influence and the skill has passed on. I encourage youth to learn skills of their parents and elders in the community. There is nothing positive that will come from letting rural tradition die.
The views of St. Lewis from the waterfront is captivating. There is no question about the community being built from a fishing history despite a recent plant closure. Warrick and Elaine are working tirelessly on restoring the family fishing premises and focusing as well on growing local foodstuffs. They proudly showed us the collection of fishing tools, nets, punt and outer buildings they revitalizing in the area. They have planted berry bushes and trees that are growing, although the raspberries are not bearing fruit, the blackberry bushes have netted about 24 quarts of berries. Placed next to the orange shed were fish pans and buckets lined with produce. The benches and gentle waves make it the perfect place to sit down with a book and cup of coffee, as one would watch the sunrise or sunset. A little closer to their home they have a herb garden and strawberry patch. Warrick has quite the talent when it comes to placing stone; there is even a heart. One can sense the passion for renewal and revival of community from these two resilient individuals as we chatted about future opportunities and community economic development.
It was quite easy to find “Love” in St. Lewis. I have many more memories of meeting people and I’m forever richer because of this experience. I look forward to another visit to St. Lewis in the future and I encourage others to see opportunity in their community. Small contributions of new development go a long way to rural revitalization.
We need more restoration, community gardens, viewing vistas and experiences that share culture and learning with locals and visitors in our very own regions. Let’s share our talent, passion, past time and love of where we live with others.Live Rural NL - Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
Kinsale, the town of just over 2,200 people is the first Transition Town in Ireland. A community-based group, supported by Kinsale town council looks to manage local resources and find sustainable solutions to the challenges of peak oil and climate change. Public meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month. They take a number of guides from an energy plan, which has led to the creation of Transition Towns worldwide, even as far-reaching as Canada.
I first heard of Transition Towns from my friend Emanuele, at the time a member of the Emerging Leaders Committee of cCEDnet. She had spoken of Guelph, Canada as one of the transition towns that is looking at environmental and social issues, and aims to limit the dependency on oil.
We can transition to a future beyond fossil fuels, one that is more vibrant and resilient; ultimately one that is preferable to the present. Our current Provincial Government stresses that we must wean ourselves from our over dependency on oil. These revenues may be filling the public purse in the short-term; however, we need longer term strategies. The government wishes to create Hydro-electricity from the Muskrat Falls project and displace Bunker C oil burned to create electricity from the Holyrood Generating Station. The Town of St. Anthony is exploring wind energy as a means to become more competitive to attract industry and lower energy costs.
Community gardens have become an initiative of transition towns. Food security has always been an issue for residents of Newfoundland & Labrador. My grandparents generation practised sustainable living, by growing their own produce and raising farm animals. We are experiencing a trend in rural regions, where more people are exploring gardening. The concept of a community garden would help address food security issues. We should produce and grow more locally.
The community-groups are accomplishing their goals by inspiring, encouraging and supporting others to transition the community.
Rural areas are no exception. Let’s ensure that 2011 is the year you garden, grow more local and work with others to create a community garden. This is a very reasonable suggestion to ensure brighter futures for the Great Northern Peninsula.
Live Rural NL 0
- Totnes: Britain’s town of the future (guardian.co.uk)
- Review: Localisation and Resilience by Rob Hopkins (energybulletin.net)