Communication for Community Survival Conference

Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada, March, 1997

Sponsored by Communication for Survival Initiative, Westviking College and the Long Range Regional Economic Development Board


Jennifer Young of Stephenville was one of more than 100 participants at the Communication for Community Survival Conference at Westviking College. This photo and these stories first appeared in the conference newsletter, Community Mosaic. For your copy, ask Tom Hutchings.

Promoting Dialogue on Issues Facing Our Communities

More than 100 people braved a March-comin'-in-like-a-lion snowstorm to participate in the first Communication for Community Survival conference.

Cec Godwin of Fogo Island was the first to register on-site; he drove his old Chev across the island in the storm. But it was Evelyn Knight of the University of Kentucky who made the longest trek.

It was a doing conference; most of the event was live on local television. The participants were the crew: on-air and off-air.
Workshops were faciliated on community television; community radio; newsletter; popular theatre; black and white photography; posters, and computer communications.

The conference was phase 8 of the Communication for Survival initiative and most of the participants were communication volunteers from rural communities in western Newfoundland.

For the past two years the initiative has been facilitating dialogue on survival issues within and between rural communities.

Perhaps it was the storm raging outside the college cafeteria, but on Friday night as the group participated in making television and listening to each other's stories, everyone seemed to agree there was a feeling of togetherness that permeated the rest of the conference.
In true Newfoundland fashion, there were lots of opportunities to share yarns and socialize. There was excellent music the whole weekend, thanks to sound technology students and Le Gars Ti Jardin from Cap St-Georges.

The participants met in small groups to discuss both issues facing their communities and strategies for positive change. All report backs were live on-air.

Headlines from Community Mosaic

Greetings from the World Wide Web

Messages from as far afield as Australia were sent to the particants.

Sharing information through newsletters

Sharon DeLodder, executive director of the Bay St. George Chamber of Commerce, says a newsletter is the most effective way to communicate with members and the public.

Community Economic Development: What is it?

Turning the Tide, a Baccalieu region newsletter, suggests the first step to community economic development is people accepting responsibility for their future and recapturing the spirit of self reliance that built Newfoundland outports.

Telecentre offers Internet as a local business resource

The Western Regional Telecentre, located at the W. E. Cormack Development Centre in Stephenville, offers one-on-one sessions with members of the Bay St. George Chamber of Commerce.

Outer Bay of Islands form Round Table to ensure future

Action groups from Lark Harbour and York Harbour are working for the future of their communities faced with a closed fishery.

Newsletter focuses on youth out-migration

The Trinity-Conception Community Development Corporation is concerned that more than 7,000 young people have recently been forced off the island.

Lively Workshops

Making our voices heard

Cindy O'Neill, facilitator of the popular theatre workshop, said about her group's performance - "We all have a voice, and we're going to get a chance to get our voices out there."

Reaching out to the world

Each participant in Kevin Brake's computer communications workshop got an opportunity to create a personal home page. Anne Parsons, a member of the Burgeo communication for survival committee, also runs a bed and breakfast.

Better broadcasting

D'Arcy Drury, co-ordinator of Westviking's journalism department, helped by students Nicole Adams and Tanya Eales, conducted hands-on radio sessions with representatives of Association Regionale de la Cote Ouest. Journalism has an AM station while the francophones of the Port au Port Peninsula have a community FM station.

Video ventures

Participants from community television groups in Placentia and Lourdes produced videos in the community television workshop, facilitated by Don Murphy of the journalism department and Dave Cooper of the Burgeo Broadcasting System, a community owned cable system.

Drawing attention

Ray Mackie, co-ordinator of the college's art school, helped participants create posters for the conference, as well as for the communities.

Extra! Extra!

According to participants in the newsletter workshop, facilitated by instructor Stan Moeller, the importance of creating a newsletter is it will provide people within the community a chance to unite and share similar interests. It also brings about an awareness of the importance of community involvement.

Stephen's photo tips

Stephen Lee, facilitator of the black and white photography workshop, is also associate editor of The Georgian and former journalism graduate.

Great distances, but common problems

by Shana Doyle

What happens when people from as far away as Kentucky and as close as here in Stephenville met to discuss issues that affect their communities? Common ground on many issues.

One of the initial activities of the conference was a Friday discussion session. The participants broke into four working conversation groups. They discussed issues relevant to what they hoped to see change. The groups then met together to give live on-air reports on what was achieved during these conversations.

One of the common themes was the sustainability of culture in our communities. It was decided that the mass media is vital in changing social problems.

Social problems identified included the abuse of alcohol, unemployment and a lack of adequate infrastructure.

"People just aren't getting the message," said Damian Meade. He said that through public meetings and sessions people could be more informed.

Information was another common theme throughout discussions. Florence Courtenay said "one solution is to ensure people have an adequate education."

The topic most addressed was communication - when we are able to look at communication problems, especially between government and people, barriers can be lowered and community advancement can happen.

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