Posted in Opinion

Wallander and the RID fund

Wallander is a BBC production, available on the CBC channel, about a detective solving murder crimes in Sweden. It combines problem-solving (joining the dots) with personal life issues, set in  a rural landscape. This scenario reminds me of living in rural Nova Scotia and attempting to understand the day to day political culture.

The Rural Innovation District (RID) fund is one of three funds administered by the NSCC. The other two funds are designed to address  innovation ecosystems in metro Halifax and Cape Breton. The ‘rural district’ refers to the geography of all of rural Nova Scotia, excluding the metropolitan areas.

Thinking about the ‘rural district’ and the community college, there are a significant number of non-metro campuses across Nova Scotia. If we were to address the needs of Annapolis County then the primary campuses would be COGS in Lawrencetown and the Middleton site. If we wanted to understand the innovation culture in this part of rural Nova Scotia, we would look at new directions in the business culture, the non-profit sector, as well as ongoing community initiatives.

Given this challenge, there would be two basic, first steps:

  1. establish a network of partners who could define the needs of Annapolis County;
  2. analyse the resources at both campuses that could be deployed to meet these needs.

My mental model would have two components:

a) a place-based education network (PEN)

b) a collaborative innovation laboratory (CIL)

These would be combined to form PENCIL. A pencil is a tool. It is used for both writing and drawing. With this concept, we would be able to ‘join the dots’. We could identify potential partners and test solutions to specific problems within a laboratory environment at the college. This has been tried in the past with the ACOA funded Business Incubation Centre on the Middleton campus. The difference, in this case, is that the community partners define the issues that need to be addressed, and work collaboratively with the campus resources.

The other difference is a ‘place-based’ education approach. This means that the issues are determined by the conditions in the local landscape. This could include forestry, agriculture, fisheries, culture, tourism, social and economic development. It might involve innovative approaches to science and technology.

Rather than expect the agenda to be driven by the college, allow the local geography to determine the issues. If the PENCIL concept works in one rural location, then look to the possibility of a modified version in a different geography. The key ingredients are a place-based education network and support for a collaborative innovation laboratory. It could be piloted in Annapolis County.

Perhaps we can get the BBC to produce a film series here. The new star might be Gordonstoun Nova Scotia.

Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year !

Acknowledgements

To all friends and associates, who have encouraged me, all year, in writing this blog.

References

Wallander. Kenneth Branagh plays the Detective Kurt Wallander.

Rural Innovation District Fund Rural Innovation District Fund

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Posted in Opinion

Bring back Coastlands

As we readied the house for Christmas, it was time to sort out a stack of old magazines for recycling or garbage. The pile included Haida Laas from Haida Gwaii, as well as Northword from Northern BC. From Nova Scotia, it contained the Nova Scotia Policy Review. Politics, culture and justice and its successor, Coastlands. the 
Maritimes Policy Review. My last issue was Volume 4, Number 1. Spring 2011. Feast to Famine. Why our food system is in decay. Coastlands was published and edited by Rachel Brighton from Bridgetown.

On Wednesday, I caught up with Rachel at Bistro 300 in Middleton. I wanted to know what had happened to Coastlands. The answer – while policy issues remain a passion for her – the magazine subscriptions  were hardly paying the bills. She moved on, to other roles, and work environments.

As we come to the end of 2018, with local conversations about climate change, ‘coastlands’ are very much on the table. Part of my engagement is that I enjoy seeing the use of simple, provocative, geographic language.

Seven years have passed. These days, I receive the Guardian Weekly to obtain a global perspective. The Walrus gives me a Canadian view. What is available at the local, provincial level to give me a critical perspective ? What has happened in terms of rural Nova Scotia and its development ?

If I look at the last issue of Coastlands, I find feature articles on Community Economics, Ecology, Food and Agriculture, Health, Politics and Culture, Energy and Environment, Justice. There is a book review of a biography on David Adams Richards. Coastlands included cartoons by Janet Larkman, as well as the editorial talent of Rachel Brighton.

Here are but two examples. Rachel writes a column called Orwell Answers.

“A jolly good fallow.

George,

Where have you been ? We’ve all been wondering, what’s become of George ? I missed your replies and battling thoughts back and forth. I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits even in these dreary days when all anyone hears about is this famine or that flood or that assassin. I would like to hear some words of wisdom and encouragement, but find none.

Wistfully, Frank.

Dear Frank,

I thought to lie fallow for a year. To be honest though, I was beginning to find the periodical that publishes these exchanges a little depressing and perhaps tiresome. We have so many pamphleteers and so little peace. I hope I can be of some encouragement to your readers, especially you.

Write soon with some good news,

George ”

 

The second example is a Vesper. The Marinade of Time.

“Let us think of quietly enlarging our stock of true and fresh ideas, and not, as soon as we get an idea or half an idea, be running out with it into the street, and trying to make it rule there. Our idea will, in the end, shape the world all the better for maturing a little.”

Matthew Arnold 1914.’The Function of Criticism” in Essays. Oxford University Press.

This speaks directly to my impatient, blogging self.

After seven years, it may be time for Coastlands to resurface. Perhaps an online version. There has been a lot of water splashing up on our shores, without a critical policy review or any evidence-based analysis.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Rachel Brighton for her insights into the concerns of rural Nova Scotians.

Sorry, no graphics. Edward is still afloat somewhere down South in warmer climes.

References

Haida Laas is the newsletter of the Council of the Haida Nation.

Northword Magazine is a regional magazine for northern BC, published in Smithers. Northwood Magazine

The Nova Scotia Policy Review and Coastlands were published between 2007-2011.

Posted in Opinion

Community Innovation

This week, I have run into the term ‘community innovation’ in two different contexts.annapolisValleySatelliteView_communityInovation First, in last week’s Annapolis Spectator there was an interview with Bill Crossman about a project to install solar panels at the Centrelea Community Hall site. Second, at the latest Valley REN (Regional Economic Network) board meeting, Gerard D’Entremont was appointed Vice-Chair of the Board. In his introduction, Gerard described his position at (Nova Scotia Community College) NSCC Kingstec as the Community Innovation lead for the Annapolis Valley region. Intrigued, I requested a meeting this week with him at the Green Elephant in Kingston to learn more about this initiative.

The reason for my interest was simple. I see myself as a member of the rural community of Paradise and its surrounding geography. In my pre-retirement capacity, I was both an educator and a research scientist. Thus, I appreciated the function of innovation in both research and business. I am also familiar with the role of applied research and its potential benefit to our geography (i.e. local communities and landscape).

My conversations with Bill and Gerard has led to the following questions.

a) What issues (problems) defined by the community can be addressed by innovation?

b) Can we find innovative solutions in our community that can be applied across the larger landscape? For example, can all community hall sites support solar panels?

c) Given the mandate of the NSCC:  who defines/owns ‘community innovation’?

d) With the type of specialist resources at COGS and AGRG what innovative approaches can be applied to economic development in rural communities?

e) Should the approach be restricted to economic issues?

f) What about social issues? or environmental issues?

g) Who gets to select the issues?

Seven years ago, I remember trying to engage local municipalities in the concept of a ‘community information utility’. The idea was to organize and maintain information about the assets of rural Nova Scotia. This included both its geography and its people. How many opportunities have been missed because the information was not readily available to potential investors?

To end on a positive note, there are a couple of upcoming events.

  1. the Centre for Local Prosperity centreforlocalprosperity.com is hosting two events next weekend in Shelburne and Hubbards. October 20th Expanding Community Wealth: re-localizing strong economies for Shelburne County. NSCC Shelburne Campus Cafeteria 9-3:30 pm and October 21 Expanding Community Wealth through Import Replacement. 2:30-4:30 Ocean Swells Community Centre, Hubbards.
  2. October 24 th., at the Kings Municipal building, Kentville there will be a showing of the video. Climate Change and the Human Prospect. 6:30-8:00 pm

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Bill Crossman for showing the way, by ‘thinking globally and acting locally’ and to Gerard D’Entremont for sharing his understanding of ‘community innovation’ at the NSCC.

 

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.

References

Celes Davar.  Check website www.earthrhythms.ca

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

 

Posted in Book Review, Opinion

Community Engagement: a ghost story

bookCover_capitalAGhostStoryThis blog was inspired by Arundhati Roy’s book Capitalism. A Ghost Story. It is a collection of short stories about life in India. Indeed, it is a VERY scary book [Youtube interview with Arundhati Roy], especially if we look South of the border, to the United States.

In a nation of 1.2 billion, India’s one hundred richest people own assets equivalent to one-fourth of the GDP‘. p.7

At the opposite end of the demographic spectrum, we have rural Nova Scotia. I have identified a few of the concerns that have crossed my desk in the last week or two.

The Municipality of Annapolis County is seeking a solution to the demand for high-speed Internet. Meanwhile, i-Valley is evaluating different alternatives.

The provincial Department of Natural Resources has responsibility for forest practices across the province. A recent hike along North Mountain, above Bridgetown, illustrated the challenges faced by both humans and wildlife, in traversing the trash left by clearcutting. We still await the Lahey report; an independent review of forest practices in Nova Scotia.

econous2018On the economic development front, The Centre for Local Prosperity is promoting EconoUS 2018 in its latest newsletter, as ‘an economy that works for all‘.

We are beset by water quality issues, related to our geology, giving us high levels of arsenic and uranium, especially on South Mountain.

Today, the Municipality of Annapolis County is threatening to withdraw from Valley Waste Resources. Thus we may lose our garbage delivery. This information has been conveyed through an online newsletter and video.

We live in a world with a multitude of multi-media communication tools; be it podcasts, YouTube video, online courses, Twitter, LinkedIn or FaceBook.

The uncertainty, defined through these technologies, can lead to an increase in anxiety for our rural communities. They may lead to a false sense of community engagement. This aligns well with the picture described by Roy, under a plutocratic Capitalism in India where a small group of individuals or organizations are controlling the lives of a rural population. These new technologies can be used to improve the health of communities or they can be used to exploit the community resources. The choice is ours. Again, a VERY scary proposition — A Ghost story.

As usual, thanks to Edward Wedler for his editorial comments and graphics.

References

Arundhati Roy.2014. Capitalism. A Ghost Story. Haymarket Books.

Centre for Local Prosperity. Newsletter dated August 13, 2018 www.centreforlocalprosperity.ca

The Municipality of Annapolis County. Newsletter and video. Referenced August 13, 2018. https://annapoliscounty.ca

Posted in Opinion

Follow the Thread

Reflecting upon the use of GIS at the municipal level, I felt that it was time to do some background research. GISThreadI had noted that Chris Turner at BlueJack Consulting had developed a web GIS application for the Eastern Shore. Likely my best resource would be Eric Melanson at Esri Canada in Halifax. Eric was a COGS graduate from the ’80’s.

Eric provided me three links to East Hants, St John, NB and Maple Ridge, BC. Later, he added Cumberland County and mentioned Cape Breton. My specific interest was GIS in rural Nova Scotia.

To go further, I contacted Brent Hall at Esri Canada, Toronto. Brent is Director, Education and Research, after an academic career at the University of Waterloo and Otago. Brent was able to refer me to a number of materials coming from Esri, California. In particular, podcasts, videos, online magazine articles. This made me realize:

a) there was a new generation of tools and products under the ArcGIS Hub brand;

b) since I had been away from the technology, companies like Esri were using a variety of multi-media tools to reach their target audience.

bookCover_scaleAt the end of my thread, I listened to a podcast by Geoffrey West. He had written a book, called Scale. In particular, West talks about scale in terms of large cities and companies. Of course, my interest was at the opposite end of the spectrum. What happens in rural Canada? These areas lack the diversity of our urban areas and thus are extremely vulnerable to the effects of change.

After a conversation with Simeon Roberts, he sent me a copy of the Municipal Affairs Business Plan 2017-2018. One of their priorities is:

‘Develop for consideration a new model for the Regional Enterprise Network program that supports ONE Nova Scotia economic growth, youth workforce attachment and rural entrepreneurship’

bookCover_NSbusinessplanAnd further:

‘Bring more datasets in the Nova Scotia Geospatial Infrastructure to support and promote land use planning and economic development, build data management tools and a viewer to deliver data to RENs and Municipal Units’.

Joining the dots, it would seem imperative that there should be an analysis of the use of GIS technology by the different municipal units across the province. At a minimum, this should include East Hants, Cumberland, the Eastern Shore and Cape Breton This type of cross-comparison would seem to be essential as part of the development of a new model for the REN program.

In addition, faculty and students at COGS should be familiar with the application of technologies like QGIS and ArcGIS Hub so that they have the necessary expertise, as we follow the thread.

Postscript

For planning purpose, there will always be the need for good geographic information about our landscape and its use, whether that is agriculture, forestry or municipal development.

Acknowledgements

I have appreciated the electronic and face-to-face conversations with Simeon Roberts, Eric Melanson, Brent Hall, Doug Foster, Jeff Wentzell. The opinions, of course,  remain my own. Thanks to Edward Wedler for his graphic response.

References

Chris Turner.  Check online Bluejack Consulting.

Eric Melanson

Cumberland County https://cumberlandcountyns.ca/maps.html

City of St John http://catalogue-saintjohn.opendata.arcgis.com

East Hants http://easthants.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html

Maple Ridge http://opengov.mapleridge.ca/

Brent Hall

esri.com

Check Andrew Turner, Constituent Engagement. A World Tour of ArcGIS Hub Sites

Also check podcast Geoffrey West January 11/2018 The Fundamentals of Growth and Transformation: companies and cities

Check WhereNext magazine.

Nova Scotia Department of Municipal Affairs.  Business Plan. 2017-2018.

 

Posted in Opinion

Landfullness: a framework for Annapolis Valley land use survey

Aldo Leopold in his Round River essays notes:

” The problem, then is how to bring about a striving for harmony with land among a people many of whom have forgotten there is any such thing as land, among whom education and culture have become almost synonymous with landlessness .”

nature_2This quotation comes from a paper by Molly Ames Baker, found in a collection edited by Bob Henderson and Nils Vikander, Nature First: Outdoor Life the Friluftsliv Way.

 The twenty-five essays look at Friluftsliv in Norway, Canada and internationally.

My interest in the book is what can we learn about our relationship to the land by making comparisons with other, Scandinavian cultures.

rediscovery NABaker also quotes from Barry Lopez, The Rediscovery of North America.

“We have a way of life that ostracizes the land. As the suburbanization of America evolves at an ever-increasing rate, landscapes are becoming homogenized and we often find ourselves in ‘Anywhere USA'”

Baker is interested in Landlessness in Adventure Education, and therefore, conversely, develops a Landfull Framework. This framework has four levels:

a) Being deeply aware

b) Interpreting Land History

c) Sensing Place in the Present

d) Connecting to Home

Her concluding remarks are:

“The pull of modernity has existed for centuries and will continue to disconnect us from the land with greater force and diligence in the future. Striving to actively engage students with place, is a sure step towards creating connection to landscapes and a more sustainable future.” p.256

This blog is a follow up to ‘Do landscapes have memories?”

If we agreed on the need to better understand landscape change in the Annapolis Valley. And thus, the desirability to conduct a comprehensive land use survey. adventureBased_1Let us imagine we wanted to organize a team (or teams) of students to undertake the survey. Should the project be designed within a landfullness framework? Molly Ames Baker describes a framework for adventure-based programming: promoting reconnection to the land. Could the same philosophy be applied to the land use survey ?

References

Bob Henderson and Nils Vikander (eds.) 2007. Nature First. Outdoor Life the Friluftsliv Way.Natural Heritage books, Toronto.

Molly Ames Baker. 2007. Chapter 24. Landfullness in Adventure-based Programming: promoting reconnection to the land. p.246-256 in Henderson and Vikander.

Aldo Leopold.1966. A Sand County Almanac with essays on Conservation from Round River. Oxford University Press. p.210.

Barry Lopez. 1990. The Rediscovery of North America. University Press Kentucky. p.31.

 

 

 

Do landscapes have memories

Posted in Event Review, Opinion

Transition: from North to South

Tuniq Times, the seasonal festival of dog sled, cross-country skiing, skijoring and skidoo races, started last week in Iqaluit. It was time to head South and see whether Spring had arrived in the Valley. It was hard to leave behind such wonderful snow for cross-country skiing.

nwOwnersInTheirOwnlandOn the flight to Ottawa, I picked up a copy of the Nunatsiaq News (April 13 edition). There was an interesting opinion piece by Alex Buchan, Vice-President, NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines. He reviewed a book by Robert McPherson New Owners in their own land, Minerals and the Inuit Land Claim. “McPherson was a geologist hired by the Inuit Land Claim organization to identify mineral-rich lands that we would eventually select .”

“Another important aspect of our land claim was to successfully negotiate the right to share with the government the resource development in all of Nunavut.”

” This was a very new and unique concept then, for the government to share resource management with us.”

” Co-management has given us a strong environmental protection system, to ensure that any development, not just mining, is done responsibly and in a way that Inuit knowledge is considered in ensuring that our land and waters and wildlife are protected.”

Back Home, it was time to catch up on events in the Valley. The best approach is to go to the Farmers Market in Wolfville on Saturday and to pick up a copy of the Grapevine. In the April 19-May 3 edition, two articles caught my attention.

I noted that Ed Symons, COGS faculty, is giving a talk at Acadia University on ‘Why Annapolis County is probably the most mapped county in the province”. The title of the article by Wendy Elliott MapAnnapolis could turn into MapValley ? (Wednesday 7 pm at the Irving Centre Auditorium).

The second article described a new exhibition of the work of Dick Groot at the Cedar Centre in Windsor (end of April – May 1018). This caught my attention for a number of reasons. Dick in a previous life, worked at ITC, Enschede in the Netherlands. When we were transforming NSLSI to COGS, we would often reference ITC as our European model.

ribbonToTheFutureSo, I checked his website eyeopener2013.com  and found the following quotation about the Ribbon to the Future project (a joint project by Dick Groot and Hannah  Minzloff).

” Ribbon to the Future. Ultimately, we intend to build an interactive website that allows the audience to add their own photography and stories thus creating a public information utility, ribbon to the future”.

Wow, Amazing! Does that not sound like the ‘community information utility?’

I contacted Dick, he explained that  ‘we set out to record photographically the old and the ‘anticipated’ new economy’.  The photo-based installation in Windsor is Closure: a photographer’s eye on an old economy.

Here is the challenge. What has replaced the old manufacturing economy? I also recall that part of the project was to focus on a linear narrative through the Valley. The ‘ribbons’ are the highways; Highway 1, Highway 201, and more recently Highway 101.

Time to go and see the exhibit. Time to think about the interactive website and its geography.

britishPioneersInGeographyWhile in Wolfville, I could not resist stopping at the second-hand bookstore. There, I found a book by Edmund Gilbert British Pioneers in Geography.  This set of essays describes the Oxford School of Geography, going back to the twelfth century. A couple of quotations:

From Carl Sauer, p.18

“a good knowledge of the work of one or more of our major personalities is about as important an induction into Geography as I am able to suggest”.

Or the author, on the decision in 1971 not to build a new London airport near Cublington, p.26 — ‘The defence of the natural beauty of the world’s landscapes is the inescapable duty of the geographer”.

References

Nunatsiaq News. Year 45 Number 3. April 13, 2018. Alex Buchan Required reading: new owners in our own land! Commentary. p.14.

The Grapevine. Issue No. 15.06 April 13 – May 3, 2018. Wendy Elliott. MapAnnapolis could turn into MapValley. p.11 and Mike Butler. Richard Groot’s Photo Finish. p.9.

Edmund W. Gilbert. 1972. British Pioneers in Geography. David & Charles, Newton Abbot, Devon.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in New thinking, Opinion

A Community Geographic Information Utility Strategy

From the responses to my previous CIU blog, I offer some clarification and a strategic direction.

pickCGIUlayerThe concept of a ‘community information utility’ (CIU) is very generic and subject to various interpretations. I suggest we add the descriptor ‘GEOGRAPHIC’ to avoid confusion with other utilities — like electricity, water, etc. — thus, CGIU.

The key is to provide our community access to the best available information about our geography — our land, people and social infrastructure.

To go forward, I propose three steps.

STEP ONE
Re-visit the implementation and status of what has happened over the last ten years with CIU in Sault Ste. Marie, and investigate other examples elsewhere (or similar concepts).

STEP TWO
Explore non-profits and other delivery options for a CGIU in our region including, for example, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, NS Community College, and the Valley Regional Enterprise Network. What is important is strong citizen involvement.

STEP THREE
Re-visit the CLICK Project (this was a geographic information project funded under the SMART communities fund) to elicit lessons learned.

In summary, what is happening elsewhere, what potential organizations exist locally that could handle CGIU, and how can we avoid previous mistakes in the region?
It is apparent to me that the same CGIU ingredients exist as they did  ten years ago, but fundamental technologies have advanced:  access to high-speed Internet; better GIS tools for the public; a ubiquitous social network; and, a recognition of the need to empower citizens in rural areas with high-quality geographic information for more informed, decision making.

I look forward to your comments and improvements.

Posted in New thinking, Opinion

Community Information Utility: it’s time has come.

tablet-431647_960_720Around 2011, I was working at AGRG on Community Mapping. We had discovered the work of Paul Beach in Sault Ste Marie. He had developed the Community Information Utility (CIU) concept and implemented it in his region. The idea was to give citizens access to digital geographic information about their community. We brought Paul to Halifax and Lawrencetown. He met with Ian Thompson (Deputy Minister, and later with the Chronicle Herald). AGRG hired Ron L’Esperance’s company to see if the concept could work in Southwest Nova.

Roll forward to 2018.  From Larry Powell’s recent article in the Annapolis Spectator on sustainable forestry, we see that Annapolis County is expressing an interest in “evidence-based management”.

If they are to be accountable, then we must agree on the underlying information. In my mind, it’s positive to see the municipal government voice these concerns to the province and the Lahey Commission. However, it does not address my question, as a citizen, about access to geographic information. Not only access but who manages the technology. Both the provincial and the municipal government are supposed to be representing the interests of their constituency, i.e. citizens, and that includes access to information.

For example, with the MapAnnapolis project with heritage mapping of Centrelea, Round Hill and Granville Ferry who manages the information? How is it accessible to citizens?

Besides the forestry example, there is the question of arsenic and uranium in the groundwater of South Mountain. Who manages that information? How does it impact the health of citizens or impact property values?

If we roll back, even further, 1987, COGS  hosted a one week CCA Summer Institute on GIS. We brought together a number of the leading thinkers on GIS technology and provided a hands-on education for the next generation of university professors.

Next month,  the Canadian Cartographic Association (CCA) will be holding its Annual conference for the first time at COGS. Again, we will be bringing together some of the same thinkers, thirty years later.

For example, Professor Michael Goodchild in 1987 was at the University of Western Ontario. Shortly, thereafter he moved to the University of California, SantaBarbara as part of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. At UCSB, he developed the Alexandria project. This project placed GIS and Remote Sensing technology in the Library. Subsequently, James Boxall championed a similar concept of a Map Library at Dalhousie University. Goodchild is one of the keynote speakers at the CCA meeting. His talk is entitled ‘Place, Space and GIS’.

Let’s join the dots. What would it take to have a community information utility available to citizens, perhaps initially as a pilot in Annapolis County,  through the Annapolis Valley Regional Library or the NSCC at COGS?

We already have the example of the legacy of Walter Morrison’s work as a Map Collector and Cartographer at COGS. We have access to the results of Walter’s life work.

Why not put a public face on this geographic information? We have made some progress in our public history, but we have a long way to go in our public geography. If we had a Community Information Utility, there would be an accessible repository for the results of citizen science that would complement our local efforts in, for example, Clean Annapolis River project, MapAnnapolis and Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Association.

Reference Links
The Alexandria project
Community Information Utility
MapAnnapolis
CCA conference

Footnote
The CCA conference is May 30- June 1. It includes presentations on First Nations mapping, the UNESCO Grand Pré site, community mapping, keynotes on trends in cartographic technology and thinking.