LAST REVISION FEB 18, 1999
A number of the challenges facing our area were made clear, through the Developing Community Partners workshops. They were led by Tyerman and Daughters Communications, during January and February of 1997, in contract with and funded by HRDC (Human Resources Development Canada). We are a group that has come together, out of the need to address what we feel is one major source of a lot of those problems.The Area
Renfrew County is large geographically, covering 7,645 square miles, with a total population of just over 90,000. Approximately 40,000 individuals live in the urban centres of Pembroke, Renfrew and Arnprior (the largest centre has a population of 14,000). Approximately 60% of the whole Countyís population, on average, is rural, living in small towns, villages and townships.The Challenges
Homegrown Community Radio's vision is to eventually serve close to 3,000 square miles of the most isolated townships, in the upper Bonnechere and Madawaska river valleys. This Southwest portion of Renfrew County has long been identified as its most rural portion, with significantly fewer services, higher unemployment, more seasonal employment, and generally lower income levels.
Isolation, social and geographic, poses the most serious ongoing challenge for our communities. Pembroke and Renfrew, our close urban centres are more than an hourís drive for most of our communities and most of our population lives in outlying areas on back roads. This isolation results in a serious lack of identification with the available radio services, and worse, a serious lack of identification with and connection to the community in which we actually live.
Our rural communities have been stressed by a continued economic and cultural focus on large urban centres. We've seen a continued loss of diversity, employment and economic stability, culture, and our youth, too, as they leave for urban centres where there is more perceived opportunity.Our Purpose
We need to begin to turn that around, to discover, recognise, and foster the talents, educational possibilities and potentials for sustainable livelihoods that exist in our communities.
Most if not all of these problems, are challenges that need to be addressed through more, and more effective, communication. Community radio will: inspire confidence; motivate constructive and caring action; support perseverance; facilitate networking of action and service; and improve local awareness through continuous access to local information and learning opportunities.Our Roots
The Opeongo Line, which runs through this part of the County, was part of the original route across Canada, taken by pioneers heading west. That pioneering spirit is still alive today. Over the past twenty-five years there has been an influx of urban immigrants, who in many cases have chosen to live with less of that which requires a higher income. The families who have lived in the area for generations have survived as a result of their ability to be independent, and many of the urban refugees came with a dream of increased self-sufficiency and self-reliance.
Our communities are characterised by a combination of this hardy pioneer resourcefulness and artistic and creative skills. We have some incredible talents and skills in our communities that, if supported, will develop into vibrant micro-industries and economies, and major artists. We have also begun to realise the relevance of eco-tourism and its potential in this beautiful part of Ontario. The applied human resources which exist here have not been widely recognised, utilised or supported. We seek to enlarge this recognition so that individuals will increase their sense of self worth and ability to succeed, and so that communities will enlarge their sense of capacity.Our Approach
The local papers have given us a bit of coverage in the vein of "these people are going to start a radio station". In this area at least, there is a great sense of "you'll never do it" concerning any kind of new or different undertaking. So, to actually explain community radio, and what is required to have, and keep it, we feel the necessity to "demonstrate" it. We need to have the media available to "talk" with people, and collect feedback on how best to serve us all. So, we are asking for a short term license of one year, in order to use the radio to reach other people. Then, they too may become aware of the immense benefits that community radio would offer our area. The real involvement that we get from the public then, will support and contribute to the form and content of the undertaking, in immediate and tangible terms.