Small communities have particular needs and assets when it comes to building strong economies. This was the topic of conversation at the June 28-29 Teeny Tiny Summits, which drew over 200 volunteers, staff, local councillors, and support organizations.
Participants were treated to an inspiring dialogue with keynote speaker Peter Kenyon, a social capitalist and community enthusiast. Over the last four decades, Peter has worked with more than 2000 communities all over the world seeking to facilitate fresh and creative ways that stimulate community and local economic renewal.
Peter’s uplifting message about the power of communities is as simple as it is inspiring: “You can do it.” His presentation included examples of communities with populations as low as 7, who had come up with creative ideas to bring new life to their beloved place. With hilarious stories and examples, Kenyon provided a fun-loving, risk-positive approach to trying new things.
The theme of the summits was “Ideas to Action”. Armed with inspiration from Peter Kenyon, participants then heard local experts talk about six key issues that are crucial to small community economic development. These were:
- Finding Your Story and Telling it (Alison Vandervelde, County of Frontenac)
- Strategic Planning Without Tears (Liz Huff, Township of Leeds and 1000 Islands)
- Big Data for Small Places (Nelson Rogers, Community Ingenuity, and Bob Leitch, Sonoptic Communications)
- Small Village Water and Wastewater Servicing (Mike Dwyer, Township of Rideau Lakes and Lynne Maclennan, WaterTAP Ontario)
- Insurance/ Risk Management for community groups (Brian Grattan, Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen)
- Municipal-Volunteer Relationships (Nikki Nelson, Keene Pumpkinfest)
They then had the opportunity to discuss these issues, learn from others, and identify areas for future action.
The summits were organized by a partnership between OMAFRA staff and the Village of Merrickville-Wolford and the Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen. Teeny Tiny Summits have taken place in six communities across Ontario since March 2016, and attracted over 600 participants. The energy and enthusiasm that participants and speakers bring to the sessions is just one demonstration of the incredible wealth of community assets that exist in small places.
For more information on Peter Kenyon, see his website: https://bankofideas.com.au