Donald Savoie in his recent book, Looking for Bootstraps and subsequent commentaries on regional development in the Chronicle Herald talks about:
” the business community, not just governments, has a responsibility for turning the region into something more than a region of the mind. Community institutions need to step up and contribute to the region’s economic development.” (July 29/17 Chronicle Herald F3).
From my perspective, we do need a “Valley Region of the Mind”. Indeed, I would go further and suggest that there is a need for a 2017 version of Ernest Buckler’s The Mountain and the Valley. Buckler in 1952 described life in rural Annapolis County, mid-twentieth century. For him, the mountain was West Dalhousie (South Mountain) whereas Bridgetown was the Valley.
Fast forward to 2017, if we were to describe the Mountain and the Valley, what are the important features of the landscape? What has changed in terms of agricultural practice? New crops? What are some of the new features (e.g. Highway 101)? If we listened to the conversations of residents, what would be the topics of concern?
In my neighbourhood on Hwy 201, I see new craft beer company (Lunn’s Mill) and Beavercreek Winery. In Paradise, the Morse Estate (Buckler. The Cruelest Month 1963) has been transformed into Burnbrae Farm and Paradise Inn. The town of Bridgetown has merged with the Municipality of Annapolis County.
There are new communication services extending along the Valley bottom. The Harvest Moon Trail has replaced the railway. It is open to hikers, cyclists and ATV users. The Annapolis River has been upgraded for kayakers and canoeists. The newest thread will be high speed Internet that should create opportunities for remote work sites in rural Nova Scotia.
The new book should address the geography of the Fundy Shore. It would offer more details of our cultural history, the Mi’kmaq and the Acadian.
Conversations with our neighbours would talk about the changing demographic, the role of educational institutions in preparing the next generation for an entrepreneurial, global economy. We would share stories about the remarkable community events throughout the region – access to theatre, music and film. The importance of networking opportunities, illustrated in the print media by The Reader and The GrapeVine.
On the environmental front we would voice concerns about the status of our forests, the soil condition of our agricultural land, as well as species loss in our oceans and rivers. We need, too, to monitor the rate of climate change and its impact on our natural resources.
A new book in 2017, by a next generation Ernest Buckler, would help us to more fully appreciate ‘the region of the mind‘ as well as define ‘the mind of the region’.
Ernest Buckler. 1952. The Mountain and the Valley.
Ernest Buckler. 1963. The Cruelest Month.
Donald Savoie. 2017. Looking for Bootstraps. Economic Development in the Maritimes. Nimbus Press.