Rural communities know the way, but they need the means. A database will connect worthwhile projects with the people who can help.
Arthur Bull, vice chair of Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia (RCF) says that people in small towns and rural communities have the skills and know-how to get ahead, they just need a direct way of connecting and supporting each other. His group has put together a database of grassroots innovators who are working on local solutions to some of the challenges now facing rural and coastal communities. These projects are promising initiatives taking place across various sectors, but need support to continue.
“Helping is second nature to people in small towns,” he said. “We support each other in times of trouble. Now we need to harness this quality and its resources to save our communities.”
RCF is a charitable foundation that was formed in 2001. Literacy Nova Scotia and the Coastal Communities Network formed this group to steward a fund of money left over from the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy (TAGS) program. This federal TAGS program provided transition funding in response to the downturn in the fisheries sector. The foundation invested a portion of the TAGS seed money in a permanent endowment fund and began funding projects. The fund has continued to grow and the foundation has been using the money to invest in various projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to the problems now facing rural communities.
Originally the foundation looked at dozens of project proposals and funded 13 projects. Now, in order for the good work to continue and grow, regular people are being asked to invest in projects. “Rural communities are not going to survive by doing things the same way they have been done for generations in the past, “ he says. Most now realize that government funding is harder to access and that relying on large companies to offer secure employment is not a realistic plan for economic development and stability.
People are finding new approaches to improve access to health care and improved health outcomes, improved practices in woodlot management, as well as innovative approaches to fishing and forestry, and better education opportunities. “The answers to our problems are more likely to come from within our communities than from Halifax,” he said. “We need small scale local solutions. The answers and opportunities are here, we just need to connect people with projects.”
RCF has compiled a database of worthwhile projects and organizations that are providing innovative solutions in rural Nova Scotia. He says the group’s goal is to serve as an old-style switchboard that connects these projects with private people who are looking to invest in local initiatives.“It’s not easy to find local organizations for investment, you can’t just look in the yellow pages,” he said. “Our job is to get money into people’s hands so they can do the work that needs to be done.”
A volunteer board of directors operates RCF, so any money it collects is directed towards the groups and projects it funds. Groups are also being asked to register in the database.
Article by Heather Killen, Annapolis County Spectator, January 12, 2016.
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