We all possess a ‘community of place’. In my case, it is civic address #6326 on Highway #201, just beyond the Lawrencetown village boundary. In essence, it could be called East Paradise. The nearest community is Lawrencetown.
We also belong to ‘communities of interest’. These start with the land. As operators of a certified organic orchard, we have an interest in organic farming. Last week, we attended a meeting of the Organic Council of Nova Scotia. This is a group of producers and processors who have been certified according to organic farming standards. To gain recognition as an interest group, we need to work with the Department of Agriculture to ensure that this perspective is represented in the province.
A second ‘community of interest’ is the small private woodlots owners. Again, we need to work with the Department of Lands and Forestry to ensure that this voice is heard.
With access to communications technology, it is easier for these ‘communities of interest’ to share their views and values with the wider society. Government agencies can support input from these communities through website development, membership lists and maps showing the availability of their products.
The challenge lies in the identification of these ‘communities of interest’, at a time when our ‘communities of place’ are at risk. There are, however encouraging signs. In Lawrencetown, we see significant leadership with the new health centre, as well as the expansion of CRIA business activities in the village. This weekend in Annapolis Royal, CARP hosted an educational event with Solar Nova Scotia. Next weekend, the Municipality is hosting a Climate Change Summit at Cornwallis Park.
To address the challenges ahead, we need to change the mechanisms whereby different levels of government work with communities of interest. We need to be more effective in the application of new technology for better public education, as well as more informed political decision making.
Rachel Brighton for her comments on ‘communities of interest’. Organics Nova Scotia for their interesting meeting. Solar Nova Scotia for their excellent educational forum.