“Editorial from St. Croix Courier/Courier Weekend”
Head: What will you do to better the region?
When Paul MacNeill, a newspaper publisher and editor on PEI first thought of creating a conference to discuss the future of rural living in the Maritimes, chances are that he never imagined the impact of bringing together some 300 people to discuss just those topics.
But now what?
In truth, and with all deference to the work that MacNeill and Newspapers Atlantic (the industry body representing Maritime community newspapers, of which the Courier/Courier Weekend is a member) have done on the Georgetown Conference: Rural Redefined, the effort really never was about a three-day conference.
A number of delegates from this region attended the Georgetown Conference. They return to the region with new ideas, with new hope, new energy. But a handful of local residents attending a three-day conference isn’t going to change Southwestern New Brunswick.
One need only read the stories from the conference, published on the page opposite, to gain a deeper sense of where the path to changing our communities lies.
Sarah Goulding put it best: it’s up to us. In reality, we knew that. We always did. But now it’s in black and white, simple, easy words to read. But is it as simple, perhaps, to put into action?
The answer to that question is a vital one. There have been many who have said much the same thing, such as Frank Carroll, the highly regarded mayor of McAdam; Dale Weeks, the president of the St. Stephen and Area Chamber of Commerce; and editorials crafted in this space have all expressed much the same sentiment: complaining isn’t enough.
It’s time for action. Government won’t save us, certainly not the cash-strapped federal and provincial regimes. Municipal governments have a greater role to play, certainly, but such bodies have limited power and, like their brethren, limited resources.
This newspaper will continue to press for more “town hall” meetings in the region, and certainly, any who are interested in assisting in the organization of such brainstorming meetings in areas that have yet to have one are urged to contact us for our assistance. From meetings such as these, from those ideas, come potential directions and paths to follow. Moreover, these meetings will bring together the energies and ideas of our region’s true resource: the people who live here.
It is we who have the power to change. We can, as Weeks and others have suggested, begin by being more positive. Certainly delegate Abby Pond has hinted that compared to some areas of the Maritimes, we are far better off than we may think. Further, we have many assets with which to work. We are blessed with location, with opportunity, with potential.
Now comes the time to roll up our collective sleeves and begin realizing that potential. This, then, is a call to action, a call to volunteer for an under-staffed service club, a call to serve on a municipal committee, a call to help out a volunteer fire department, a call to network with other like-minded individuals.
It’s also worth noting that Pond has aptly pointed out that there are already efforts underway to chart visions for the region, but that those efforts have, while noble and valiant, not yet appropriately meshed with others of a similar bent.
That’s a vital lesson: it is not enough to press for change. We have to do so together.
It’s that simple.
And thus, in hindsight, efforts to redefine the rural lifestyle of our region were never about a three-day conference.
It was always about what we, as a community and region, are willing to do, and willing to do together.
Let’s begin doing it.
– Vern Faulkner