Posted in Opinion

A Question of Scale

In the blog Follow the Thread (August 10th) I talked about Scale. Since that time, the last two blogs have looked at the writing of Roy on the global scale (Capitalism: a Ghost Story) and the writing of Bishop on the local scale (her memories of Great Village).

Last week in conversation with Celes Davar, we talked about trends in the tourism industry. This included the concepts of experiential and sustainable tourism, as well the traditional measures of a success — the number of visitors, overnight stays, expenditures, etc.

scaleStepping back, I recognized that, consciously or not, we are thinking at multiple scales. Within a geographic framework, this can mean:

Rural Nova Scotia (Annapolis Valley) Municipal government
Urban Nova Scotia (Halifax) Provincial government
Maritimes (regional view). In comparison to Ontario, BC
Canada (national view) In comparison to the US, Europe, Asia
Global. International agencies

If we are looking at tourism in the Annapolis Valley, what is the influence of provincial and national strategies for attracting tourists from other countries e.g. China, Europe? The same would be true in terms of immigration policies.

A related question is the flow of information. Is it a two-way flow? Are the views of the citizens reflected at the municipal scale? Do municipal tourism concerns appear on the provincial agenda? If climate change is a global concern, how is it reflected as you move down the geographic scale to rural Nova Scotia? Do contradictions arise, as you move across the different scale?

When considering the writing of Elizabeth Bishop or Ernest Buckler, it is appealing to think in terms of local geography. However, it is important to appreciate that Bishop spent much of her life in Brazil, the United States and Europe. Buckler went away from Nova Scotia before returning to write about the Mountain and the Valley.

Given access to social media, is it easier today to operate simultaneously at several levels of scale? Certainly, it is easier to network with colleagues and relatives across continents and oceans in semi-real time. Thus comparisons are more readily available. If that is, indeed, the case, what is being lost? What is being gained?

Is it possible to pay attention to detail at multiple scales simultaneously? Or do we need to focus on the local; a particular place and geography?

A corollary is that, as the result of lifetime mobility, the voice of the rural citizen can be informed by experiences from many parts of the world or at different scales. This information flow can be maintained, even though the individual chooses to live in a rural landscape, close to the soil and nature.

Thanks to the  conversation with Celes Davar, email from Sandra Barry, and the graphics of Edward Wedler.


Celes Davar.  Check website

Recent blogs

Geography III: place, writing and maps. Posted August 23rd

Community Engagement: a Ghost Story. Posted August 15th

Follow the Thread.  Posted August 10th



2 thoughts on “A Question of Scale

  1. The problem with a lot of this information is that it is not based on direct experience. Where do the direct experiences and knowledge of rural Nova Scotians fit into the puzzle?

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