In my previous two editorials I attempted to identify some of the 'disconnect' between urban and rural attitudes toward culture. While in cities there are cultural centres, attempting to inform population of culture, in rural areas, ones own village, hamlet or town is the cultural centre in which one lives. This in itself illustrates the difference at it's core.
Instead of a building, or even a complex or two, reserved to relegate culture as a thing of curiosity, identifying it mostly as the past, which can be dismissed, or observed at best; the rural experience is one of full immersion and cohesive, the complexity of living it, and therefore much more likely to be truly experienced and understood, at a genuine level, by the citizen.
This kind of cultural immersion is not experienced by most urban sprawl type planners, who aren't invested in the culture of the communities they effect. The dismantling of our Canadian identity happens through this disconnect.
A bird in the hand will always be worth two in a bush. Heritage type buildings are better if re-purposed than relegated to neglect. They can be re-purposed for uses like Art studios, Churches, Scouting meeting halls and the like. Community service groups are the types interested in preserving the heritage of community buildings, naturally recognizing heritage as integral to the culture of a community. Need for the new is not always need.
Akin to the “rush of the reach”, mega companies make territorial encroachments into small communities. Policies molded by money for special planning considerations, for city oriented commuters, attempting to export into the rural regions, urban style commerce and practices, are only helping IF the communities truly want it. Information presented about 'benefits to be had' is often skewed, eventually leaving a town hollow of its original proprietors and it's true life-support, gutting the entrepreneurial spirit.
In like manner, our government policies in agriculture, fail to encourage farming practices around local need, leaving us to import it, and local farmers with a small profit. All too often government goals are oriented around other countries expectations, and we are left holding a more expensive grocery bag. Farmers feed cities but they should be our own first. Policy makers need to walk a mile in the same stuff farmers do, in order to see clear.
Our movie and television industry attempts to regulate Canadian content for these same reasons.
The paving over of the ear marks, or should I say “Life marks” of our history is reducing Canada everywhere. The only truly embarrassing element of our cultural past, on mass, is the manner in which we took this land from its first peoples. Their methods and goals were unlike our own. Presuming that our way of life was better, because it was better for us, we “rushed to reach”. What arrogance!
This is not unlike the dominance of our rural communities by urban sprawl. It, too, is supported by provincial and federal governments, without preserving a people. There is nothing wrong with growth, if it's done in a culturally consultative way, but never at the expense of its heart. Is that going to be our cultural legacy, or are we going to be better than our past, by learning from it?
Let's remain in connection with the smaller slow grown elements of our culture. They are stronger, like slow growth forest trees, or free range livestock. Knowing your own culture well, is like knowing ones self well, a person will be more considerate, supporting others contributions. We are responsible for sharing; graciously, our cultural perspectives, with those from other communities; and we are responsible to explore the values of others, finding the best of each, to enter into genuine appreciation.
Let's not remove heritage markers, with a bigger is better approach, markers help us find our way. We are a country of, what's been touted as, “Multiculturalism”. In its truest sense, that means unique communities, in all their various forms, finding a way to contribute the specific benefits of how they live, to the country's fabric as a whole. These many special strands offer a great strength to our nation, this is most distinctly generated at a local level. These citizens grow up with immediate cohesiveness, and it gives them strength, optimism and stamina to work hard, and contribute to the fibre of our country, socially and entrepreneurially. Providing uniquely original approaches, because they see their culture recognized in the fabric of the whole. If unique communities are homogenized, where will we be when solutions are needed from unique thinkers.
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