The annual conference of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation starts tomorrow (October 12, 2016) in Guelph.
Tomorrow I will be attending the Annual Rural Policy Conference of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF). CRRF has organized Canada’s only annual national rural policy conference for the past 28 years. CRRF brings together researchers, policy analysts and rural development practitioners (such as the economic development officer in your county). This mix of participants learns about the latest research from the research and about the latest view of best practices from economic development officers in the field.
This conference is being held on October 12-15, 2016 at the Holiday Inn in Guelph. Registration is still open. The program includes rural-related field trips on Wednesday, October 12th followed by two days of conference sessions (plenary talks, breakout sessions and workshops) on the general topic of rural revitalization and two round-table workshops on Saturday, October 15th. The 2016 conference theme is “Building Vibrant Rural Futures.”
CRRF is providing the organizational capacity but additional support is coming from the Rural Policy Learning Commons (RPLC). RPLC is a $2.5M partnership grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The aim is to facilitate networking among individuals (researchers, policy analysts, practitioners) to build rural capacity and to strengthen relationships in order to inform rural research and policy. RPLC does not fund research – its focus is to improve the effectiveness of research by facilitating the networking among all rural stakeholders. Hence, the RPLC is supporting the Guelph CRRF conference.
Importantly, both the Rural Ontario Institute and the University of Guelph, particularly the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development are also knee-deep in the planning and delivery of this conference.
Participants have a choice of field tours tomorrow (October 12th, 2016).
One field trip is “Examining the Past, Exploring the Future.” Participants will meet with members of Ontario’s “Six Nations” Aboriginal community. Our objective is to first understand their history and their plans for the future. The visit will start at Woodland Cultural Centre to learn the history of this space/place followed by a tour of the residential school. (Most Canadians will know of the recent “Truth and Reconciliation” process that, finally, heard from a generation of Aboriginal children who were forced to live away from their culture in “Residential Schools”.). There will also be a tour of the Six Nations Polytechnic to learn about innovation in energy strategies and in educational strategies
The second field trip is called “The Grand Tour.” This tour will focus on how built heritage infrastructure (specifically, manufacturing activities powered by waterwheels) has been redeveloped for tourism and the arts. This tour will follow local rivers (including the “Grand River” – hence, the Grand Tour) that powered the development of Upper Canada in order to focus on the redevelopment of Ontario industrial heritage. The craftsmanship of Scottish stone masons and the beauty of locally quarried limestone will be on display as participants explore the role historic preservation can play in rural revitalization. Stops include Alton Mills Art Centre/Hills of Headwaters, Elora Mill Inn and the redevelopment of Elora. Also included is a discussion of the MetalWorks in Guelph and downtown Fergus/Beatty Foundry. The take-away message will be how the historic built environment can be re-purposed to create local economic activity.
Finally, there is an afternoon walking tour of the Ontario Agricultural College. Established in 1874, the Ontario Agricultural College is a founding college of the University of Guelph and is recognized as Canada’s largest and most renowned agricultural college.
The weather forecast looks great. The sun is shining – no snow (think Alberta) and no floods (think Nova Scotia). The leaves are in colour today at the Holiday Inn in Guelph!
Ray Bollman on site at CRRF conference!