Rural Talks to Rural conference looks to the future
By Denny Scott
The second Rural Talks to Rural (R2R) conference, held last week at Blyth Memorial Hall, was a success according to organizer Peter Smith.
The conference, hosted by the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity (CCRC), brought speakers and attendees from across the world to discuss the problems facing rural communities.
Smith said that the event, depending on the day, brought 90 to 120 people to Memorial Hall, with Friday marking the high point with as many as 130 participating.
Smith, who was hoping for 100 people, said the event exceeded his expectations and also showed him that, for the future, he wouldn’t aim for much more than the 120 to 130 the event welcomed on Friday.
“Memorial Hall is a beautiful boutique conference centre,” he said. “It can hold 180 to eat in the lower hall, but that’s packed in. I think we hit a pretty good number. If we do it again, I wouldn’t aim much beyond 120, because, after that, you lose some of the intimacy.”
While looking at the numbers is one way to gauge success, another is in the messages conveyed and the conversations generated and Smith said the conference was second-to-none in that respect.
Starting with keynote speaker Hans van der Loo, who he reported “set the table” with a very impressive speech, Smith said the entire event generated unique conversations between participants.
He said that he will be gathering recommendations from the event and will start looking at how the R2R conference and the CCRC can start leveraging the ideas and contacts from the event to begin influencing change.
The event also served as an opportunity to show off what makes Huron County special, with local producers and caterers coming in to participate in the event.
Smith said one of the biggest improvements of the conference over the inaugural one held in 2016 was the inclusion of Market Street Strategies, a multimedia company who provided coverage of the event, including podcasts, photos and video.
Visit the CCRC on Facebook to watch videos from the event.