Majumder reinvents Burlington

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Actor shares story of hometown’s successes at MNL Symposium

Shaun Majumder’s efforts to attract visitors to Burlington were the subject of an impassioned keynote speech he delivered Saturday afternoon at the Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador Symposium.

Churence Rogers, centre, president of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, thanks Peter Blackie, left, and Shaun Majumder for giving their keynote speech at the organization's annual symposium, happening this weekend in St. John's.

“Our towns, even though there’s people leaving and going away to work, there’s a reason to stay,” said the actor and comedian. “There’s a reason to stay in rural (communities), and there’s a reason to invite people to come to rural (communities).”

Joined by “Majumder Manor” co-host Peter Blackie, Majumder highlighted how other communities in the province could learn from their experience working to encourage entrepreneurship and attract travelers to his hometown on the Baie Verte Peninsula.

“I believe it’s applicable in rural communities all over the island,” said Majumder. “It’s just a matter of refocusing the lens of how you look at your own community and engaging it in a different way.”

Blackie described people as the new fish for Newfoundland and Labrador, refering both to those living in the province and those coming from elsewhere.

Majumder spoke of an initial desire to have a property in Burlington where he could have guests stay during visits — his primary residence is in Los Angeles. That idea eventually mutated into plans to develop high-end accommodations in Burlington.

Learning of the need to have infrastructure in the community to attract visitors, Majumder and Blackie helped start businesses, including a greenhouse to supply local food for both residents and visitors paying for meals. Majumder spoke fondly of the social business model whereby businesses are designed to address social objectives, with profits dedicated to expanding business and promoting social missions.

“Everybody here who represents every community, you have things that you don’t even know are gold mines yet. You may, but trust me, my whole perspective on Burlington, Middle Arm and Smith's Harbour is that every corner is a gold mine. When I’ve traveled and I’ve seen people, aliens that come to Newfoundland, they land on the spot and they’re like, ‘Is that red rock?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s red rock. What about it?’ ‘Oh my god!’ People freak out about the littlest things — red rock or some other feature in the landscape. To you, you were raised in it, but there’s so many beautiful assets in the community.”

Majumder too spoke of the need to be aware of a community’s history when identifying its assets.

“Your community’s story — your community’s history — is so important in identifying and bringing back out for everybody to hear about and to know about and to keep these stories alive, because it’s an important part of identity for the future of your community as well.”

The actor singled out Zita Cobb — founder of the Shorefast Foundation and the high-end Fogo Island Inn — as a source of inspiration. Majumder also championed Blackie’s help, noting the two have managed to test their ideas against each other, thus providing scrutiny that enhances the feasibility of what they hope to achieve in Burlington.

Majumder’s profile on television helped convince W Network to air “Majumder Manor,” a series documenting his interest in helping Burlington flourish. It’s now in its second season.

“We’ve got to tell this story. The story is the most important thing that we will be able to utilize to share with the rest of the world as people come to Burlington and come to Newfoundland,” he said.

A community festival in Burlington called The Gathering was launched in 2012. A free event attracting 1,000 people in its first year, The Gathering had a banner sophomore year, almost doubling its attendance and turning a net profit exceeding $25,000. Majumder said that money can then be put towards community-based businesses or projects like walking trails.

Majumder also noted The Gathering did not sell alcohol at any of its events. This step was taken to make the event something all local residents could get behind.

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(Earlier story)

Efforts to build interest in Burlington were the subject of an impassioned keynote speech delivered Saturday afternoon by actor and comedian Shaun Majumder at the Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador Symposium.

Joined by co-host Peter Blackie, Majumder highlighted how their work to encourage entrepreneurship and attract travelers to his hometown on the Baie Verte Peninsula could be used as a model by other communities in the province.

Majumder spoke of an initial desire to have a property in Burlington where he could have guests stay during visits — his primary residence is in Los Angeles.

Eventually, that idea paved the way for plans to develop high-end accommodations in Burlington.

Learning of the need to have infrastructure in the community to attract visitors to the area, Majumder and Blackie helped start businesses, including a greenhouse to supply local food for both residents and visitors paying for meals.

Majumder’s profile on television helped convince W Network to air “Majumder Manor,” a series documenting his interest in helping Burlington flourish. It’s now in its second season.

With the community getting a profile boost from the television show, a community festival called The Gathering was launched in 2012. A free event attracting 1,000 people in its first year, The Gathering had a banner sophomore year, almost doubling the number of attendees and turning a net profit exceeding $25,000.

For more on this story, check back soon to thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador Symposium, The Gathering

Geographic location: Burlington, Los Angeles

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