–Philip J Reed on behalf of Exede, a rural internet provider.
In the natural world, diversity matters. An ecosystem needs a variety of both plant and animal species in order to thrive. On a larger scale, a healthy planet is home to a variety of landscapes, from rain forest to tundra, that contribute to a balanced earth.
In the human world created by civilization, another kind of diversity is important to our overall health in the present and to our future as a species. That diversity is found in the variety of settings in which we live, from the most densely populated cities to the most isolated rural outposts.
We tend to think of cities as the most important of those settings, and that tendency is reinforced by the growing cultural influence and political clout of urban areas, qualities that are themselves functions of vast demographic change. In 1800, some three percent of the world’s people lived in urban areas. According to a 2011 estimate by the United Nations, in 2008 the number of people living in cities reached 3.3 billion, for the first time amounting to more than half of the total world population.
That trend is likely to continue. Between 2011 and 2050, the United Nations expects world population to grow by 2.3 billion and the urban population to grow by 2.6 billion. This projection can mean only one thing: Cities will grow while rural population shrinks.
Perhaps it’s natural, then to focus our attention on cities, but rural areas and the small towns and villages they encompass are absolutely necessary to a healthy world. We neglect them at our peril. The fact is that the very existence of cities depends on the integrity of the rural areas on which we all depend.
Agriculture is obviously essential to our survival, and farming is of course a rural enterprise. Fisheries occupy a similar position. Natural resources are another product of the rural environment. Some are renewable, such as forest products and wind- and water-powered energy. Others are non-renewable, including sources of energy like oil and natural gas, and sources of industrial materials generated by mining. Regardless of category, all are critical to our survival and all originate in rural areas.
However, the rural contribution is not limited to practical matters, important as those are. We derive physical and psychological benefit from the countryside in ways that are quite real, though hard to quantify. We get pleasure from sports and outdoor activities, and from visiting an area where we can enjoy natural beauty and abundant wildlife. If nothing else, our psyches often need the refreshment of the rural perspective.
Beyond the vision of rolling green hills and amber waves of grain that symbolize “the country,” the small towns that punctuate rural areas also fill critical needs. First, they provide a nexus for distribution of those vital rural products, including food, lumber and minerals. Second, they perform important functions for the rural population, providing small-scale government, along with commercial and personal services, that would not be available in a truly isolated area. Third, they offer community, a necessity for the inherently social beings that we are. Without small towns, the rural population’s decline would likely be even more precipitous than is now predicted.
Our tendency to discount rural value is nothing new. It found a notably clear expression in the debate over the original terms of the U.S. Constitution, when less populous states feared that they would have no say in a legislature apportioned according to population. The convention stalled over the question, and it took the “Great Compromise” to move things forward. That compromise added a legislative body, the Senate, in which each state had equal power regardless of population.
The Great Compromise recognized the importance of rural America. The need to respect the value and integrity of all non-urban areas around the world is certainly no less important today than it was in the 18th century. If anything, the need becomes more urgent as the cities grow in the foreseeable future.
Applications are currently being accepted for the Community Recreation Development Grant Program. The Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation is encouraging communities and recreation committees to submit an application. Funding will be used to help provide recreation programming and services to residents across the province.
“The Community Recreation Development Grant Program is designed to offset the cost of recreation, sport, and active-living programs available to communities with less than 6,000 people,” said Minister Dalley. “Support from this program gives citizens of all ages the opportunity to become more physically active by participating in local recreation programs and services offered in their respective communities.”
The deadline to submit applications is April 30, 2012.
Applications are considered based on their alignment with the priorities outlined in the province’s recreation and sport strategy, Active, Healthy Newfoundland and Labrador (2007). These priorities include providing increased access to programming for all residents; making the best use of community facilities; building community capacities, and promoting the inclusion of traditionally under-represented groups, especially Aboriginal groups, women, seniors, youth, and persons with disabilities.
For program guidelines and applications:
- visit www.tcr.gov.nl.ca/tcr/formsandApplications/index.html#Recreation
- contact the Recreation and Sport Division at 709-729-2829, or
- e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The “Perk Me Up” Coffee Soap may be just the cure for those heading to work on Monday morning. The ingredients are listed as lard, olive oil, caster oil, sodium hydroxide, ground coffee, coffee beans and fragrance.
“Fun at the Beach” is a pleasant bar that is nice and refreshing.
“Peppermint Pattie” boasts a scent that can almost be eaten. I love the mixture of chocolate and vanilla coming together to produce something truly delicious.
“Oatmeal, Milk & Honey” is full of relaxation. One can only imagine the good these products can do to moisturize the skin.
Who knew that I would be critiquing soap?
My Kitchen Spa has prepared a good product that is well-packaged. It is environmentally friendly, with a small paper strip that is big on branding. The playful soap name, business name, location and ingredients are clearly listed. As the business develops it may wish to list a website and email for questions, comments or to re-order.
When considering a product, I look so see if it is locally made! I crave these items for myself and gifts for friends and family members. The Dark Tickle Company’s products have been delivered as far as Ireland, Switzerland and Edmonton to date. Those visiting our region will also be looking to see if an item is locally made and most likely will factor in their decision-making process.
The gift shop at Norstead – A Viking Port of Trade, is ideal for finding local products. This stems from jewellery, painting, Norse games, Dark Tickle products, pottery and of course, My Kitchen Spa. One can purchase a small bar for $4 and a large bar for $7!
Find your niche in business! There is lots of opportunity to grow our rural economies…
Live Rural NL|
Christopher C. Mitchelmore