Fighting to save rural communities

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TC Media encouraging local ‘doers and producers’ to join provincial delegation to Atlantic conference

TC Media

Many eulogies have been written about the purported death of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

It has no future, some say. The population is aging rapidly, our traditional industries are outmoded, and the good times are a thing of the past.

It’s a situation being felt throughout Atlantic Canada, and the picture being painted is disheartening.

But there is an attempt underway to add a little colour and charisma to this dark canvas.

It comes in the form of an upcoming gathering called The Georgetown Conference — Rural Redefined. Delegates from this province described as “doers and producers” are being recruited to attend.

This unique three-day summit will take place in the small community of Georgetown, P.E.I., from

Oct. 3-5, and is being organized by Newspapers Atlantic.

 The industry association represents 70 community papers with a combined circulation of 700,000.

TC Media, the owner of 14 community newspapers in Newfoundland and Labrador, is a sponsor.

In all, some 250 like-minded delegates from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island will assemble to discuss the sustainability of our communities.

The conference will focus on rural issues and opportunities in an environment free of government influence. It is about identifying the issues, promoting solutions and engaging the people who can make change happen on a local level in communities throughout Atlantic Canada.

“We believe in our rural communities and rural people and we believe communities can be reinvigorated. Our best days lie ahead of us, ” said Inez Forbes, president of Newspapers Atlantic, lead sponsor of The Georgetown Conference.

The conference is being chaired by four eminent Atlantic Canadians. This province’s representative is Donna Butt of Trinity.

The list of guest speakers is quite impressive, and includes Zita Cobb, president of the Shorefast Foundation and well-known philanthropist. Cobb grew up on Fogo Island.

Air Georgetown

Organizers are working diligently to ensure this province is well represented at the conference, and the list of delegates is beginning to take shape.

Staff members at TC Media publications have been identifying potential delegates, and spreading the word to encourage others to step forward.

The process became much easier earlier this summer when conference officials announced that a special flight called “Air Georgetown” will take up to 37 delegates from this province to P.E.I.

The charter will collect delegates in St. John’s, Gander and Deer Lake before winging its way to Charlottetown, at a cost of $250 (return). Air Georgetown, and its deeply subsidized rate, is made possible through the dedicated sponsorship of PAL, Nalcor and Emera.

Organizers are offering travel assistance to delegates in need of financial aid.

Kevin Hiscock, general manager TC Media NL Weeklies, and a Newspapers Atlantic board member, said community newspapers are proud to be at the forefront of the dialogue on redefining rural.

“The Georgetown Conference is an investment in the knowledge and passion of the people who shape the communities of Atlantic Canada,” Hiscock said.

Among the delegates confirmed to take part is Kerri Abbott of Carbonear, an active volunteer with a keen interest in community development.

When asked why she is attending Georgetown, she replied: “Growing up I heard many stories of how people came together to solve community problems with ingenuity and grit. I’m excited to attend the Georgetown Conference to connect and listen to other delegates and speakers … to learn about initiatives and innovative solutions others have discovered, and spend time with people who believe in rural community development.”

To learn more or to become a delegate to The Georgetown Conference, go to www.thegeorgetownconference.ca

Organizations: TC Media, Newspapers Atlantic.The industry association, Shorefast Foundation

Geographic location: Georgetown, Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador Nova Scotia New Brunswick Prince Edward Island Deer Lake Charlottetown

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