The Environment,

And The Economy

  • Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Long Range Regional Economic Development Board

  • College of the North Atlantic Journalism Program

  • Ryakuga Grassroots Communications

  • Communities In Schools

  • An Interactive Event for Youth

    Stephenville, Newfoundland,

    February 4 - 5, 1998


    1. Background

    2. Participants

    3. Description of Event

    4. Objectives

    5. Appendix A: List of Participants

    6. Appendix B: Conference Co-ordinators

    7. Appendix C: Evaluation

    8. Appendix D: Ryakuga Four Stage Training

    9. Appendix E: Conference Agenda

    (Facilitators' Notes)

    10. Appendix F: Press Releases

    11. Appendix G: Small Group Task Sheet

    12. Appendix H: Discussion of Issues

    13. Appendix I: Community Television Schedules

    14. Appendix J: The Workshop

    15. Appendix I: Press Clippings

    (NOTE: The appendices are included in the written report but not in this abridged online version.)

    This report was prepared by Ryakuga Inc.(with help from the conference co-ordinators).


    The Youth, the Environment and the Economy conference brought more than 110 youth to the Lion's Club, Stephenville, Newfoundland on Feb. 5, 1998.

    The conference ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. , with a slide show presentation from 4 to 5 p.m., and a live community television forum from 7 to 9:30 p.m. The virtual conference, which ran parallel to the "real" event, on the Internet, was also shown on community television.

    On Feb. 4 about 45 youth participated in a training workshop on group faciliation, producing community television, and conducting a virtual conference on the Internet. The workshop began at 9 a.m. and ended with a live community television program from 3:30 to 4:30 pm.

    The virtual conference paralleled the live event.


    1. Co-ordination:

    The principal co-ordinators of the conference were the Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador and the Long Range Regional Economic Development (RED) Board.

    Other co-ordinators included Communities In Schools Newfoundland; Ryakuga Grassroots Communications and the Journalism Program, College of the North Atlantic.

    Planning for the conference began in November, 1997; lessons learned during the implementation of the conference will be used to co-ordinate similar events (including training sessions) in the future.

    2. Facilitation:

    The Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador and the Long Range Regional Economic Development Board were the principal facilitators of the conference on Feb. 5.

    In design, the prime responsibility for faciliatating the training event on Feb. 4 (as well as the virtual conference and community television on Feb. 5) was taken by Ryakuga Grassroots Communications.

    But, in effect, that reponsibility was a collaborative effort. In planning the training, it was decided that the conservation corps would facilitate a mini-workshop on environmental issues, thus providing content for the skills development.

    Also Youth Power 9 (the youth council of Zone 9) requested training on how-to-facilitate, so that component was addded and implemented by representatives of the Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador and the RED board.

    Other collaborators in the training event included the journalism program of the College of the North Atlantic (instructor and students); Communities in Schools Newfoundland and Burgeo's economic development officer.

    Facilitators at the conference also included members of Youth Power 9 and local environmentalist Lloyd Pretty.

    3. Resource people:

    Many of the facilitators also served as resource people.

    However, a very important resource at the conference included panel discussions and interviews which were also broadcast live to the community on Channel 12. The panel discussions were interactive with "operahs" sent into the audience to ask questions.

    Panelists for the all youth panel included Alicia Smith (Youth Power 9); Earlene Pond (Conservation Corps); Laurie Legg (North Atlantic Aquaponics); Tina Sweetapple (College of the North Atlantic Environmental Technology Program), and Jody Sturge (Grenfell Environmental Studies Program). Panelists for the Getting Involved in the Environment panel included Janet Nolan (ACOA); Randy Simmonds (Environment Canada); Sherry Granville (Genesis Organic); Lisa Alexander (Long Range Business Development Centre), and Libby Chaulk (CONA).

    Other resource people who participated in this event included Gerald Smith (MHA Port au Port-Stephenville West); Kevin Aylward (Minister of Forestry and Agriculture); Lloyd Pretty (Stephenville area environmentalist); John MacPherson (Long Range RED Board Outreach Officer and community developer); Darren Feltham (Conservation Corps Program Manager); Greg Mitchell (west coast environmentalist); Danny Park (HRDC); Martin von Mirbach (Canadian Environment Network); Dean Bailey (local business person); Cec Stein (Mayor of Stephenville) and Rochelle Owen (CAP).

    5. Youth:

    More than 110 youth from schools throughout sou'west and west Newfoundland came to the Feb. 5 conference. (See appendix - List of Participants)

    Communities represented included Ramea, Burgeo, Port aux Basques, Burnt Islands, Iles aux Morts, Codroy Valley, Mackays, Stephenville Crossing, Stephenville, St. Georges, St. Theresa's, Robinsons, Lourdes, Mainland, Black Duck Brook, Barrachois Brook and Corner Brook.

    It would be difficult to assess how many more people joined the event on the virtual conference or community television. There were 95 messages on the internet bulletin board but, as the conference URL was publicized province-wide, it can be assumed many more viewed the pages without giving an opinion on environmental issues. Channel 12 is available to communities from Port au Port East to Stephenville. Verbal reports indicate that the programs were widely discussed in the communities but we don't know how many people watched the conference.

    Description of Event

    1. Context

    It's important to consider implementing a major youth event in the context of the climatic and geographical realities of sou'west and west Newfoundland.

    Stephenville, as the hub of the region, may be considered as the axis of an X figure. Youth who came north from Ramea first had to take an hour and a half trip on a ferry which often doesn't run in winter weather and then face a two and a half bus trip on a road which is closed by the RCMP in rough weather. Youth who came north from Burnt Islands face a similar situation.

    The point is that it is extremely difficult to know before the event, even with pre-registration, how many people will make it on the day.

    The second context results from a participant-oriented implementation style, both of the training and the event itself. Flexibility is of key importance when the needs of the participants are most important.

    Finally, there's the technical context. Not only were we introducing many of the youth to participant-controlled community television and a virtual conference but we intended to combine the two - both in real time. To our knowledge, especially using a participatory model, this has not been attempted before.

    2. Training event:

    The training event did not adhere to the original plan but more was accomplished than originally intended.

    The original objective was to train youth to help with the community television and virtual components of the Feb. 5 conference. The long range objective was to interest youth in becoming participants in community television in their own communities and using the Internet for issued based communication.

    Pre-conference planning indicated that 21 people would be optimum for the workshop. The intent was to form 7 teams of three people each to implement community television and the virtual conference under the mentorship of second year journalism students. Last minute pre-registration indicated about five people interested in computer communications and about 16 interested in community television.

    However, on the day we ended up with about 45 students. Most were interested in computer communications while six of the participants from Youth Power 9 wanted to learn facilitation skills. In addition, students from Burgeo and Ramea didn't arrive until almost noon.

    In pre-conference planning we decided to begin by uploading a photo of the group to the web site and then facilitate a mini-workshop on environmental issues to provide content for the skills sessions. The plan was then to divide the group into the two skills areas.

    But, according to the realities of the day, we combined the two skills groups and concentrated on participatory production of the virtual conference and community television.

    Using no specific software but rather templates in HTML, 30 youth used three laptops to write their own simple home pages. Journalism students used the webcam to "photograph" each participant and upload the page and photo. (In future workshops, it is considered important that the participants actually take their own "photo" and upload their own page.)

    The youth were invited to try out the tasks of community television production - camera, switching and audio mixing - by working with the journalism students. In addition, during the demonstration each participant was expected to be interviewed by a journalism student.

    "Streeters" on video were also taped during the workshop.

    At the end of the day, the participants produced their own program. They operated the equipment, interviewed their peers and hosted the program.

    3. The conference:

    The second day began with over 110 youth participating in the building of a large graffiti wall where problems, issues, solutions, and key players relating to the environment were flushed out through drawing. (See appendix - Conference Agenda - Faciliators' Notes.)

    The graffiti wall was used as the starting point for small group discussions on the identified "hot themes" which included: mining industry; offshore fishery; global warming and climate change; recycling programs; air pollution; water pollution; endangered species and wildlife; forest industry; oil industry; landfills and local incinerators; and industrial toxic waste dumps. Small groups were facilitated by youth trained during Day #1, most of whom were members of the RED Board's newly formed youth council called Youth Power 9.

    Also during this day, there were two interactive panel discussions where "operahs" were sent into the audience to solicit responses to panelist presentations. Both panels were broadcast live on Channel 12.

    The final event of the conference was a 2.5 hour live community TV program on Channel 12 which included a live panel, numerous taped components including clips from earlier activities, and live interviews.


    The goal of the event was to raise the level of awareness among both youth and the general public about issues and opportunities related to the environment. The specific objectives included:

    To raise the awareness of environmental issues, employment opportunities in related fields, and community health.

    To create discussion leading to participation and action on key issues.

    To profile existing / emerging success stories related to the theme.

    To raise awareness of critical issues that need to be addressed.

    To involve existing non-profit groups / agencies working in environment sector, with the aim of helping them to get public feedback and increase membership.

    To raise awareness of existing private sector initiatives including environmental sector companies / industries / small businesses working in Zone 9 and the Province.

    To give students direct experience and exposure to those working in the environment sector.

    To give participants hands-on experience / training in participatory communications tools and techniques useful both in business and in non-government sectors including; web site design; virtual conference; community television, and use of participatory education techniques including drama, drawing and small group facilitation.