On June 16, 2011 – Jim Diers writes “Building Strong Communities Means We Can Hold Government to Account” the complete article can be found at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/voluntary-sector-network/2011/jun/16/building-strong-communities-government-account
“Community is the engine room of people powered change; although there’s a role for government and other agencies with staff and budgets, there is no substitute for people identifying with and caring for one another and the place they share.” Jin Diers
The Great Northern Peninsula is stronger when we work together. Despite a small population and vast geographical distance, we have been overcoming barriers and working together in larger groups – with our partners. It is easier to reach our objectives, share-knowledge, skills and volunteers to achieve our goals for individual communities and regions.
One only has to look at St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) to realize the success on can have when communities work in co-operation. I wrote an article on April 17, 2011 entitled, “Community Control Over Resources Leads to Greater Success in Rural NL (http://liveruralnl.com/2011/04/17/community-control-of-resources-leads-to-greater-success-in-rural-newfoundland/). In 1997, when the Federal Government released its new fisheries management plan, there was an allocation of 3,000 tonnes for the 16 communities (17 at the time) on the northern part of the Great Northern Peninsula. They included the communities from Big Brook (now re-settled) to Goose Cove that had lobbied for a share of the increased quotas. Having this resource in the hands of the communities, enabled SABRI to make local decisions that would provide the greatest benefit to residents of the area.
They were able to develop the many trails and gazebos, including the ones in Goose Cove that led me to view the Massive Icebergs. Additionally, millions were invested in infrastructure, hundreds of jobs created directly and many more indirectly in the region. SABRI is truly a local success story on the Great Northern Peninsula that was given a small allocation of 3,000 tonnes and manage it effectively to provide the greatest benefits to the people of their region. They should be commended for the work they do and the significant impact they have made.
Another example of communities working together is the Northern Peninsula East Heritage Corridor, consisting of a network of communities that work to build their tourism assets. As a collective unit they have been able to create a number of reasons for people to spend their vacation visiting their Towns. I know I have been to Englee, Roddickton-Bide Arm, Conche and Main Brook many times visiting the Underground Salmon Pool, Walking Trails or French Shore Culture Centre.
The Eagle River Credit Union is another success story of communities working together and deciding its needs. St. Barbe Consumer Co-op, Flower’s Cove and Grenfell Memorial Co-op, St. Anthony continue to exist because of its ability to serve their members.
Communities decide on what it values and what it needs to add to be happy. We have unique ideas in Rural NL and solutions to fill voids that do not always register or understood by the Government. There is a wealth of creativity, ingenuity and knowledge in our rural economy. Our suggestions do not always require hiring a consultant – sometimes it is a matter of good common sense.
I have written past articles asking, “Where are our Farmer’s Markets?”, “Where are our Social Spaces?”, “Where is Our Community Murals?” “Where are the Community Gardens?”. These are all small measures that can help with rural revitalization. These measures generate revenue, can help re-train employees and lead to long-term growth in various industries. Enhancing the community advances tourism and attracts a climate for further business development.
“Strong communities are the key to holding government accountable for protecting the rights of the most vulnerable. Social justice never comes from the top-down. People must be organized to support one another but also to demand that their government provide what the community can’t or shouldn’t do for itself. There are some things best done by community, some by government, and some that can only be accomplished by working in true partnership.”Jim Dier.
When communities come together and collaborate for the common good of everyone, there is greater success. We are beginning to see local groups with common interests, working closer together to share finite resources. We only have to look to co-operatives and how they have thrived in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. We need more local co-ops (agriculture, forestry, fishery, crafts, tourism), as well as collaboration from communities, businesses and government. There is room for everyone to play a role. Everyone has a strength and everyone deficiencies – so Together We Can Change the World!