Posted in Event Review

A Blast from the Past

This was a tumultuous week. First, I persuaded COGS to allow me to attend their two-day conference on Sensors in return for writing a review on the GoGeomatics web site (see link under GoGeomatics). My thoughts on the COGS conference are available on the online GoGeomatics blog. Second, I attended a one-day MashUp in Annapolis Royal looking at the potential for new businesses in the region. Between these two events, I received the photograph below from David Hildebrand of the first GIS class at NSLSI (now COGS) (1985-86).scan-130919-0016_600w90dpi

As a backdrop, I finished reading George Orwell Illustrated, before moving on to David Manners Convenient Season and Kate Raworth Doughnut Economics. At the end of the week, I picked up David Adams Richards novel Principles to Live By at the new Annapolis Royal library.

Here, I will focus on the MashUp event and its relationship to reading. In 2014, Heather, Edward and I walked the Road to Georgetown. At that conference on rural economic development in Atlantic Canada, we met Andrew Button, who lives on the South Shore. Today Andrew organizes and hosts MashUp events. The one, yesterday, in Annapolis Royal was his fourteenth. The concept is to bring together members of the community with ideas for new businesses in the region and to help them articulate their business plan, through coaching, criticism and feedback. At 8 am there were twenty-five citizens at the Annapolis Royal library.

My interest was not necessarily to create a business, but rather to understand how to create a climate where businesses can thrive. Here, I am not going to delve into the details or describe the results. Indeed, once we get into the business economics, my eyes glaze over, and I have little to offer.

This was the process. Everyone selects two words that resonate with their interests. From each table, one person takes three words from the word pool that will be used to drive their thinking. This translates into a collection of potential business ideas. We then go through the usual dot voting process that leads to one business idea per table (seven tables).

Here was my path. My two words were ‘gardening’ and ‘place’. Gardening because I believe that our relationship towards the landscape should be more akin to gardening. Place because, as a Geographer, I think that ‘place’ drives many decisions and ideas.

My issue (or concern) was ‘how can we better connect the creativity which exists in the community with our post-secondary education environment ?’ Not exactly a revenue-generating idea in the short term.

Subsequently, I joined a group of individuals who were interested in the role of writers in rural Nova Scotia (no surprise there). It included Brenda Thompson who had recently published ‘Wholesome Horror: Poor Houses of Nova Scotia’ (see her web site

By 2 pm, I was drained. It was hard for me to focus on the economics of a regional publishing house for rural stories. I will have to check with Andrew to find out the result of the different business plans.

bookcover_georgeorwellillustratedBack home, in my own comfort zone,  I can heartily recommend George Orwell Illustrated. It is very accessible, with cartoons by Mike Mosher. It has two parts: Orwell for Beginners and Planet Orwell. In the second part, there is a human rights manifesto, co-authored by Orwell,  with Bertrand Russell and Arthur Koestler. This returned me to my sixties reading on ‘Beyond Reductionism’, including contributions from Koestler, van Bertalanffy and CH Waddington. Other familiar Koestler titles were The Act of Creation and The Ghost in the Machine.

bookcover_mannersDavid Manners book:

He writes about Centrelea and Bridgetown. Published in 1941. Manners was a Hollywood actor who had an Aunt living in the Annapolis Valley. This was his first novel.  (BTW, I am only on page 68).

Kate Raworth book

Celes Davar sent me a link to her YouTube video. I subsequently received the book through interlibrary loan. I found the video much more accessible than the book.

bookcover_principleslivebyDavid Adams Richards book

Through Sandra Barry, I heard that DAR thought highly of the writing of Ernest Buckler. Since I was at the Annapolis Royal library for the MashUp event, perhaps I could find one of his novels.


Manners describes life in the Annapolis Valley, before the Second World War. Hildebrand is illustrating life at NSLSI in the 1980s. Today, we are holding MashUps which may impact life in the 2020s. Three very different snapshots of rural life. And yet, they could be covered in a single lifetime today (80-100 years).

We can envisage the economics of Kate Raworth and we can reflect on the economics underpinning Brenda Thompson’s book (and the poor houses). This can be placed in the context of the newly discovered human rights manifesto co-authored by Orwell.


Anne Crossman tells me that the movie, Dracula 1931, starring Bela Lugosi and David Manners, is showing at the Centrelea Community Centre on February 23rd at 7 pm.


Thanks to David Hildebrand for the photograph. To Tim Webster and Michael Purcell for the conference opportunity. To Andrew Button for the MashUp event. Technical help from Edward Wedler, Ted McKinnon and Jon Murphy. Anne Crossman, Sandra Barry and Celes Davar for local intelligence.


David Smith. 2018. George Orwell Illustrated. Haymarket Books.

David J. Manners. 1941. Convenient Season. EP Dutton.

Kate Raworth. 2017. Doughnut Economics. Chelsea Green Publishing.

David Adams Richards. 2016. Principles to Live By. Doubleday Canada.

Brenda Thompson. 2018. A Wholesome Horror: Poor Houses of Nova Scotia.  SSP Publications.





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