Ryakuga Collaborative - 28 years

Ryakuga is a not-for-profit grassroots communications company founded by Fred Campbell, Neil Tilley and Evelyn Riggs in Newfoundland, Canada in 1992. Their company goal is to promote and spread local community communication all over the world.

So what does this mean? Basically it was set up with the intent of helping small communities develop their own form of media distribution and communication, through radio, webcast, and simulcast. This is performed by going to small communities, assisting the community leaders in getting the community involved in these media projects, and loaning the company equipment to allow them to perform these radio, webcast and simulcast events. They instruct and provide the necessary knowledge to the community so that people can maintain these forms of media for themselves.

Ryakuga is a grassroots company, meaning that its work often carries a message in support of the welfare of people and the environment. Ryakuga is also a not-for-profit company and therefore does not set up these workshops and events for the purpose of making a profit but rather for the benefit of the communities.

But how does it benefit these communities? By supplying small communities with their own unique form of media distribution and communication, it allows the community itself to come together and become far less reliant on the larger communities around, this most notably being shown in small rural communities in Newfoundland, where numerous small communities are struggling due to lack of assistance or distance from other larger areas.

Not only does it benefit the communities, with access to technology, such as a radio station in the community, it can benefit individuals in a community immensely as well. Access to media allows people to share their opinions, facilitates communication, as well as boosts confidence in individuals. It is Ryakuga's belief that through access to technologies such as these, communities are better equipped to assess situations more properly in order to bring about positive change.

Ryakuga operates with an international board of directors, who hire employees on a contractual basis depending on the project and the number of employees required to do the job, rather than full-time.

Ryakuga's first major work was on the Port au Port Peninsula, assisting in the setting up of a number of community television transmitter projects. The company then headed out overseas in 1995 setting up the first Caribbean youth community radio in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Since then Ryakuga has worked in many different locations, such as Stephenville; Nova Scotia; PEI; Ontario; Alberta; Montreal; Argentina, and Dubai, to name a few, setting up community radio stations and other events. Often working with Youth for Social Justice and other youth centered groups, Ryakuga focuses on getting younger members of communities involved in setting up the various events they host, allowing them to gain valuable knowledge with technology and media broadcasting.

Ryakuga uses the latest in digital microtechnology for its simulcast, webcast and radio broadcasts. A notable example of the extent of their technology was when the company was assisted by Apple engineers in California, as well as a community radio professional in Bavaria, in order to develop an efficient way to webcast on dial-up in rural Newfoundland communities.

Ryakuga has also received extensive recognition internationally for its work in grassroots communications, such as in 2000 when a director was paid by the French government to participate in the Global Networking Congress in Barcelona.

Ryakuga is not only involved in grassroots community radio and webcasting, but also in new innovative technology such as new digital video techniques used in 2001 to create the documentary "The Challenge" aired on national television, as well as patenting a new form of newspaper production with its Newspaper In A Box concept.

Although not as busy working internationally currently, Ryakuga was hard at work this year (2009), with its simulcast (which is a combination of webcasting and FM radio) station being used to broadcast special events and festivals in Newfoundland, notably for the Trails Tales and Tunes Festival in Bonne Bay, as well as the 2009 ECMAs in Cornerbrook.

Ryakuga's plans for the future (after 2009) include supporting community radio networking in Bonne Bay and on the southwest coast of Newfoundland. The goal is to develop a model for community radio networks throughout the province. Although Ryakuga continues to work in Newfoundland, it's projects have been hit hard by a large reduction in federal funding, which drastically affects the prosperity of a not-for-profit company. Nevertheless, Ryakuga has continued to support rural initiatives voluntarily by donating equipment and a voice to community media groups.

(written by Liam Campbell for a high school research project in 2009,
2019 poster by Ryakuga participative marketing specialist Mallary McGrath,
mallary@ryakuga.org)